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Presented to the 

LIBRARY of the 














mew JEDition. 







CHAP. "" 








I. THE CASTLE, ... ....... 121 


III. THE LAWNMARKET, . . . . . . . . . . .158 

V. THE HIGH STREET, ........... 221 





X. LEITH, AND THE NEW TOWN, ......... 356 




I. EDINBURGH, ............ 423 


III. CHURCHES, ............ 428 


V. WRYCHTI8HOUSIS, ........... 432 

VI. PORTEOUS MOB, *;.......... 433 




VIII. ARMORIAL BEARINGS, .......... 435 


X. WEST BOW. MAJOR WEIR, .......... 438 


XII. SIR DAVID LINDSAY, ........... 442 

xm. UMFRAVILLE'S CROSS, . ....... 442 

XIV. GREYFRIARS' MONASTERY, . .' . ..... 443 

XV. THE WHITEFRIARS' MONASTERY, ". ." . . , . . . 444 

xvi. ST KATHERINE'S WELL, . . ..... 445 

XVII. CLAUDERO, ... . ..... 445 

xviii. ST GILES'S CHURCH, . . . ...... 4oO 

XIX. ANCIENT LODGINGS, . ......... 452 

XX. THE PILLORY, . . . - . . . . . . 454 


Work now brought to a close, under the title of MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH IN THE 
OLDEN TIME, was begun years ago, not with the pen, but the pencil. In the grati- 
fication of a taste for the picturesque relics of the past, with which the old Scottish capital 
abounds, a considerable number of sketches and drawings accumulated, which acquired a 
value altogether apart from any claim to artistic merit, when the subjects of many of 
them disappeared in the course of the radical changes wrought of late years on the Old 
Town. Believing that the interest which these monuments of former ages are calculated 
to excite commands the sympathy of a numerous and increasing class, I was induced to 
prepare a selection of the drawings for engraving, and to draw up a slight descriptive 
narrative to accompany them ; but the absence of desirable information in other works 
on the subject, and the accumulation * a good deal of curious material, led to a total 
change of plan, the result of which is now before the reader. 

On referring to the works already published on the antiquities of Edinburgh, none of 
them seemed to embrace the object in view. Maitland's history presents a huge accumu- 
lation of valuable, and generally accurate, but nearly undigested materials ; while Arnot 
furnishes a lively and piquant rifacimento of his predecessor's labours, embellished with 
occasional illustrations derived from his own researches ; but, with one or two slight 
exceptions, neither of them have attempted to describe what they were themselves 
cognisant of. Both of the historians of Edinburgh seem, indeed, to have lacked that 
invaluable faculty of the topographer, styled by phrenologists locality, and the consequence 
is, that we are treated with a large canvas, composed in the historic vein of high art, 
when probably most readers would much rather have preferred a cabinet picture of the 
Dutch school. In striking contrast to either of these, are Mr Robert Chambers's delightful 


11 Traditions." The author has there struck out an entirely new path, and with the 
happiest results. The humour and the pathos of the old-world stories of Edinburgh in the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, ere New Town and Old Town improvements were 
more substantial than the dreams of future reformers, are secured: not without occasional 
heightening touches from the delineator's own lively fancy. It is only surprising that 
the " Traditions of Edinburgh" have not diffused an antiquarian taste far more widely 
than is yet to be found among the modern denizens of the Scottish capital. 

The following Memorials of Old Edinburgh differ perhaps as much from the picturesque 
traditions of the latter writer, as from the stately historic quarto of Arnot, or from Mait- 
land's ponderous folio. They .are pen and pencil sketches, professing, in general, con- 
siderable minuteness of outline, though with a rapid touch that precludes very elaborate 
finish. Accuracy has been aimed at throughout, not without knowingly incurring the 
risk of occasionally being somewhat dry. I am well aware, however, of having fallen 
short of what was desired in this all-important point, notwithstanding an amount of 
labour and research in the progress of the work, only a very small portion of which appears 
in its contents. Some hundreds of old charters, title-deeds, and records of various sorts, 
in all varieties of unreadable manuscript, have been ransacked in its progress ; and had it 
been possible to devote more time to such research, I have no doubt that many curious and 
interesting notices, referring to our local antiquities, would have amply repaid the labour. 
Of the somewhat more accessible materials furnished in the valuable publications of our 
antiquarian book-clubs, abundant use has been made ; and personal observation has 
supplied a good deal more that will probably be appreciated by the very few who find any 
attraction in such researches. In the Appendix some curious matter has been accumulated 
which readers of moderate antiquarian appetites will probably avoid to their own loss. 
I am not altogether without hope, however, that should such readers be induced to wade 
through the work, they may find antiquarian researches not quite so dull as they are 
affirmed, on common report, to be ; since, in seeking to embody the Memorials of my 
native city, I am fortunate in the possession of a subject commanding associations with 
nearly all the most picturesque legends and incidents of our national annals. 

In selecting the accompanying illustrations, the chief aim has been to furnish an 
example of all the varieties of style and character that were to be found in the wynds and 
closes of Old Edinburgh. The majority of them have some curious or valuable associations 
to add to their interest, but some were chosen for uo other reason than to illustrate 


ancient manners, all records of which are rapidly disappearing. Their accuracy is their 
chief recommendation. It would have been easy to have embellished them with spiirious 
additions, such as are of frequent occurrence in the illustrated candidates for the drawing- 
room table. Their claim to any value, however, rests solely on their being true Memorials 
of Old Edinburgh, as it has come down to us from former generations. If they should 
appear somewhat plain, and sparingly furnished with ornaments, the best apology is, that 
our old Scottish style of architecture, apart from ecclesiastical edifices, partook of the 
national character; it was solid, massive, and enriched with little display of ornament, 
yet exhibiting, as a whole, an accidental, but striking, picturesqueness altogether beyond 
the reach of elaborate art. 

In the progress of the work I have been indebted for much kind and valuable assistance 
to some of the most zealous students of Scottish literary and topographical antiquities. 
To Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, Esq., I am under special obligations for many curious 
reminiscences of the olden time ; for free access to his valuable museum of antiquities, 
which rivals the more famed collection of Abbotsford ; for the use of some of the rare 
treasures of his library ; and, indeed, for an amount of courtesy and kindness for which 
any acknowledgment I can offer is a very inadequate return. To David Laing, Esq., 

I owe the use of a book of pencil sketches, drawn by Mr Daniel Somerville in 1817 

and 1818, which has enabled me to recover views of several ancient localities demo- 
lished before my own sketching days. The use which has been made of these sketches 
is acknowledged on the several plates. To Mr Laing's well-known courtesy I have 
been still more indebted for access to rare books, and other curious sources of infor- 
mation, which were otherwise beyond my reach. To Mr William Rowan, of New 
College Library, I have also to express my obligations for valuable materials derived 
from original sources, and still more from the stores of his singularly retentive memory. 
From W. B. D. D. Turnbull, Esq., I have received, in addition to much friendly 
assistance, free access to his extensive library, well known as probably the most 
perfect collection in the kingdom on his own favourite studies of Topography and 
Heraldry. To Robert Chambers, Esq., Alexander Smellie, Esq., and the Rev. 
Principal Lee, as well as to others, I have to return thanks for much kind and unex- 
pected aid. 

To John Sinclair, Esq., City Clerk, and to James Laurie, Esq., of the Sasine 
Office, my thanks are due for facilitating my researches among the city charters and 


records, as well as to many others, whose obliging assistance has in various ways lightened 
the labour of the work. It is impossible, indeed, to do more than allude to these. In 
searching for the charters and title-deeds of old mansions, by which alone accurate and 
trustworthy information could in many cases be obtained, I have met with the frankest 
co-operation from strangers, to whom my sole introduction was the object of research ; 
while the just appreciation of such courtesy has been kept alive by the surly or supercilious 
rebuffs with which I was occasionally arrested in similar inquiries. Some of the latter have 
been amusing enough. On one occasion access to certain title-deeds of an ancient property 
was denied in a very abrupt manner, while curiosity was whetted meanwhile by the infor- 
mation, somewhat testily volunteered, that the deeds were both ancient and very curious. 
All attempts to mollify the dragon who guarded these antiquarian treasures proving 
unavailing, the search had to be abandoned ; but I learned afterwards, that the old tene- 
ment which had excited my curiosity and which, except to an antiquary, seemed hardly 
worth a groat was then the subject of litigation between two Canadian claimants to the 
heirship of the deceased Scottish laird ; and the unconscious archaeologist had been set 
down as the agent of some Yankee branch of the Quirk-Gammon-and-Snap school of legal 
practitioners 1 

In acknowledging the assistance I have been favoured with, I must not omit to notice 
that of my friend Mr James Drummond, A.B.S.A., to whose able pencil the readers owe 
the view in the interior of St Giles's Church, which forms the vignette at the head of the 
last chapter. To the Rev. John Sime, I am also indebted for the drawing of the ground- 
plan of St Giles's Church, previous to the recent alterations, an engraving of which illus- 
trates the Appendix ; and to the very accurate pencil of Mr William Douglas, for several 
of the inscriptions which illustrate that peculiar feature of our ancient buildings. The 
remainder of the vignettes are from my own sketches, unless where other sources are stated, 
and for the correctness of these I am responsible, nearly the whole of them having been 
drawn on the wood with my own hand. 

It may be desirable to state, that the historical sketch comprised in the first seven 
chapters of the Work was written, and nearly all through the press, before I found time to 
arrange a large collection of materials in the form in which they are now presented in the 
Second Part. I have accordingly, in one or two cases, somewhat modified my earlier views. 
The opinion expressed on p. 50, for example, as to the total destruction of the whole private 
buildings of the town in 1544, I am now satisfied is erroneous, and various edifices are 

PREFACE. xiii 

accordingly described in succeeding chapters, the walls of wliioli evidently suffered no very 
great injury from that destructive conflagration. 

I am fur from conceiving that the materials for an antiquarian history of Edinburgh are 
exhausted, though probably nearly all has now been gleaned from traditional sources to 
which any worth can be attached. There is, indeed, no lack of such legends to those who 
choose to go in search of them. The Scottish antiquary finds an amount of sympathy in 
his pursuit among the peasantry and the lower classes of the town population, which, 
however it be accounted for, he will look for in vain among the more educated, as a class. 
The tenants of the degraded dwellings of the old Holy rood aristocracy cherish the memory 
of their titled predecessors with u zeal that would do credit to the most accomplished 
editor of the 151 ue Book. One half of the old wives of Edinburgh prove, on evidence 
which it would be dangerous to dispute, that their crazy mansions were once the abodes of 
royalty, or the palaces of Scottish grandees, while the monotony of hackneyed tales of 
Queen Mary and Cromwell the popular hero and heroine of such romances is occa- 
sionally varied by the ingenious embellishments of some more practised story-teller. 
Modern local traditions, however, are like the modern antiques of our ballad books ; their 
genealogy is more difficult to trace than the evidence of their spuriousness. One might, 
indeed, pardon the fictions of antiquarian romancers, if they brought to the aid of the 
memorialist such skilful forgeries as Chatterton furnished to the too credulous historian of 
Bristol ; finding in the unfailing treasures of the old muniment chest of St. Mary's llet- 
cliffe, and the versatile parchments of " The gode prieste Rowley" whatever the diligent 
antiquary wished to discover. The exorcisms of such diseuchauters as the modern architect 
of St. Giles's, however, have put to flight more pleasant facts, and fictions too, than the 
inventive genius even of u Chatterton can restore; while popular periodical literature, 
diluted into halfpenny worths of novelette and romance, has so poisoned the pure old 
springs of tradition, that one detects in the most unsophisticated grand-dams tales of 
the present day, some adulteration from the manufactory of the literary hack. This 
it is which makes it so reasonable a source of regret, that Arnot should have stalked 
through the purlieus of Old Edinburgh, elevated on historic stilts, at a time when a 
description of what lay around him, and a relation of the fireside gossip of the stately 
old Scottish dames of the eighteenth century, would have snatched from oblivion a 
thousand curious reminiscences, now altogether beyond recall. To a very different 
and much less attractive source, we are compelled to turn for the chance of recovering 


some of those curious associations with which the picturesque hauuts of Old Edinhurgh 
abound. My own researches have satisfied me that the clues to many such still lie 
buried among the dusty parchments of old charter chests ; but their recovery must, 
after all, depend as much on a lucky chance as on any very diligent inquiry. It has 
often chanced that, after wading through whole bundles of such dull MSS. those of 
the sixteenth century frequently measuring singly several yards in length in vain 
search for a fact, or date, or other corroborative evidence, I have stumbled on it quite 
unexpectedly while engaged in an altogether different inquiry. Should, however, the 
archaeological spirit which is exercising so strong an influence in France, Germany, 
and England, as well as in other parts of Europe, revive in Scotland also, where 
so large a field for its enlightened operations remains nearly unoccupied, much 
that is valuable may yet be secured which is now overlooked or thrown aside as 

Antiquarian research has been brought into discredit, far less by the unimaginative 
spirit of the age than by the indiscrimiuating pursuits of its own cultivators, whose sole 
object has too frequently been to amass "a fouth o' auld nick-nackets." Viewed, 
however, in its just light, as the handmaid of history, and the synthetic, more 
frequently than the analytic, investigator of the remains of earlier ages, it becomes a 
science, bearing the same relation to the labours of the historian, as chemistry or 
mineralogy do to the investigations of the geologist and the speculations of the 
cosmogonist. In this spirit, and not for the mere gratification of an aimless curiosity, 
I have attempted, however ineffectually, to embody these MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH IN 

EDINBUBQH, Christina* 1847. 


This edition of the MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH is an exact reprint of the original work, with the 
exception that, where buildings have been removed, or other alterations made, the fact is stated 
either in a foot-note or otherwise. 




'Twixt Was, and Is, how various are the Ods ! 

What one man doth, another doth vndoe : 
One consecrates Religious Workes to Gods, 
Another leaues sad Wrackes and liuines now. 

Thy Booke doth shew that such and such things were, 
But, would to God that it could say, They are. 

When I pererre the South, North, East, and West, 

And mark, alace, each Monument amis ; 
Then I couferre Tymes present with the past : 
I reade what was, but cannot see what is ; 

I prayse thy Booke with wonder, but am gone, 
To reade olde Euines in a recent storie. 

Poetical Recreationts of Mr Alexander Craig, 
of Rose-Craig. Scoto Britan. 1623. 

S>t antenna's TOell 

A silver stream, as in the days of yore, 
When the old hermit of the neighbouring cell 
Bless'd the clear waters of St Anton's Well ; 
And yon grey ruins, on whose grassy floor 
The lamlikins browse, rung out the matin bell, 
Whose voice upon the neighbouring city fell 
Waking up 'mong its crowds old hearts that wore 
Griefs like our own ; sounding to one the knell 
Of ruined hopes, to which another heeds 
As joyful music on his marriage morn. 
Up yon steep cliff how oft light steps have borne 
The wedding or the christening train ; where weeds 
So long have grown the chapel altar stood, 
And daily pilgrims knelt before the Holy Rood. 

Thus fashions change, while Nature is the same ; 
The altar gone, the chapel's crumbling walls 
O'erlooking there the Stuarts' ancient halls, 
Deserted all and drear ; with but the fame 
Of buried glories giving them a name ; 
Where yet the past as with a spell enthralls 
The wanderer's fancy, rapt in musing dream 
Of ancient story, helping it to frame 
Old scenes in yon grey aisles, when mass was sung, 
While Mary hapless Queen knelt low the while, 
And thrilling chaunts and incense filled the aisle ; 
Vain dream ! Of all that there so fondly clung, 
Nought save the daisy and the blue harebell 
Breathe their old incense by St Anton's Well. 





HE history of Edinburgh, down to a comparatively 
| recent era, is included in that of its Castle and Abbey. 

The first, the fortress, round whose protecting citadel 
tlie rude huts of our forefathers were gathered and continued to increase, until, amid the 
wealth and security of more peaceful times, the Abbey of the Holyrood reared its conse- 
crated walls, and absorbed to itself much of the wealth and the learning, many of the 
virtues, and doubtless also some of the vices, of the wild Saxons that peopled the fertile 
Lothians. It is unnecessary to follow in this History the fanciful disquisitions of zealous 
antiquaries, respecting the origin and etymology of Edinburgh ; it has been successively 
derived, both in origin and name, from Saxon, Pict, and Gael ; and in each case, with 
sufficient ingenuity only to leave the subject more deeply involved than at first. To expect 
that the first rude gathering of the hamlet, that forms the nucleus of the future capital, 
should leave its traces in the surviving records or traditions of the past, were as unreason- 
able as that the rustic should challenge the veracity of a living historian, because he 

VIGNETTE Ancient carved stuiie over the entrance to the Ordnance Office, Edinburgh Castle. 



fails to adorn his pages with the " mute inglorious " history of his native village. All 
that tradition could have preserved of its early history, may still be traced by the 
intelligent eye in the natural features of its romantic site. 

In the midst of a fertile and beautiful country, and within easy distance of a navigable 
estuary of the sea, rises a bold and precipitous cliff, towering upon three of its sides, an 
inaccessible natural fortress, to the height of 300 feet above the plain. In immediate con- 
nection with this, the sloping hill forms at once the natural approach to the Castle, and 
a site protected already on one side by a marsh and lake, and on all but one by steep 
approaches, admitting of ready defence and security from surprise. Here at once is dis- 
covered a situation, planned, as it were, by the hand of Nature, to offer to the wandering 
tribes of early Caledonia the site for their Capital ; when every one's hand was against his 
brother, and war was deemed the only fitting occupation of men. Nor was it until the 
union with our once natural foes, had made the rival sisters, " like kindred drops to mingle 
into one," that Edina ventured forth from her hilly stronghold, and spread abroad her 
noble skirts over the valley of the Forth. 

But in addition to the natural obscurity of an infant city, the history of Edinburgh, as 
of Scotland, is involved in more than usual uncertainty, even down to a period when both 
should fill an important page in the annals of the British Isles, owing to the double destruc- 
tion of the national records, first under Edward I., and again under Cromwell ; leaving its 
historian dependent for much of his material on vague and uncertain tradition, or on infor- 
mation obtained by patient labour, or fortunate chance in the pursuit of other investigations. 

The earliest notices refer almost exclusively to the Castle, which has been occupied as 
a fortified station as far back as our traditions extend. The remotest date we have been 
able to discover, assigned for its origin, is in Stow's Summarie of Englyshe Chronicles, 
where it is placed as far back as 989 years before Christ ; sufficiently remote, we should 
presume, for the most zealous chronologist. " Ebranke," says he, " the sonne of Mem- 
pricius, was made ruler of Britayne ; he had, as testifieth Policronica, Ganfride, and other 
" twenty-one wyves, of whom he receyved twenty sonnes and thirty daughters ; whyche he 
sente into Italye, there to be maryed to the blood of the Troyans. In Albanye (now called 
Scotlande) he edified the castell of Alclude, which is Dumbritayn ; * he made the castell 
of Maydens, now called Edenbrough ; he made also the castell of Banburgh in the 23d 
yere of his reign. He buylded Yorke citie, wherein he made a temple to Diana, and set 
there an Arch-flame; and there was buried, when he had reigned 49 yeares."- 

From more trustworthy sources, we learn of its occupation as far back as the fifth cen- 
tury by the Picts, from whom it was wrested by the Northumbrian Saxons in the year 
452. And from that time, down to the reign of Malcolm II., its history exhibits a con- 
stant struggle, maintained between them and the Picts, and each alternately victorious. 
From Edwin, one of these Northumbrian invaders, it may be remarked, who rebuilt the 
fortress about the year 626, the name of Edwinesburg, as it is termed in the oldest char- 
ters we have any notice of, is derived with more plausibility, than from any other of the 
contradictory sources from which learned antiquaries have sought to deduce it. 

Passing intermediate incidents of uncertain significance, the next important epoch is that 
of 1093, when Donald Bane laid siege to the Castle, in an unsuccessful endeavour to pos- 

1 Dumbarton. 


sess himself of Edgar, the youthful heir to the crown, then lodged within its walls, lu 
that year, also, Queen Margaret (the widow of Malcolm Canmore, and the mother of 
Edgar), to whose wisdom and sagacity he entrusted implicitly the internal polity of his 
kingdom, died in the Castle, of grief, on learning of his death, with that of Edward, their 
eldest son, hoth slain at the siege of Aluwick castle ; l and while the usurper, relying on 
the general steepness of the rocky cliff, was urgent only to secure the regular accesses, 
the body of the Queen was conveyed through a postern gate, and down the steep declivity 
on the western side, to the Abbey Church of Dunfermline, where it lies interred ; while 
the young Prince, escaping by the same egress, found protection in England, at the hand 
of his uncle, Edgar Atheling. In commemoration of the death of Queen Margaret, a 
church was afterwards erected, and endowed with revenues, by successive monarchs ; al 1 
trace of which has long since disappeared, the site of it being now occupied by the barracks 
forming the north side of the great square. 

[1107.] In the reign of Alexander L, at the beginning of the twelfth century, the first 
distinct notices of the town as a royal residence are found ; while in that of his successor 
David, we discover the origin of many of the most important features still surviving. He 
founded the Abbey of Holyrood, styled by Fordun " Monasterium Sanctse Crucis de Crag," 
which was begun to be built in its present situation in the year 1128. The convent, the 
precursor of St David's Abbey, is said to have been placed at first within the Castle ; and 
some of the earliest gifts of its saintly founder to his new monastery, were the churches of 
the Castle and of St Cuthbert's, immediately adjacent, with all their dependencies ; among 
which, one plot of land belonging to the latter is meted by " the fountain which rises near 
the corner of the King's garden, on the road leading to St Cuthbert's church." 2 

[1178.] According to Father Hay, the Nuns, from whom the Castle derived the name 
of Castrum Puellarum, " were thrust out by St David, and in their place the Canons in- 
troduced by the Pope's dispense, as fitter to live among souldiers. They continued in the 
Castle dureiug Malcolm the Fourth his reign ; upon which account we have severall charters 
of that king granted, apud Monasterium Sanctas Crucis de Castello Puellarum. Under 
King William [the Lion], who was a great benefactor to Holyrood-house, I fancie the 
Canons retired to the place which is now called the Abbay." 3 King David built also for 
them, and for the use of the inhabitants, a mill, the nucleus of the village of Canonmills, 
which still retains many tokens of its early origin, though now rapidly being surrounded 
by the extending modern improvements. 

The charter of foundation of the Abbey of the Holyrood, besides conferring valuable 
revenues, derivable from the general resources of the royal burgh of Edinburgh, gives them 

1 Lord Hailes records a monkish tradition, which may be received as a proof of the popular belief, in the strong attach- 
ment of the Queen to her husband. " The body of Margaret, Queen of Scotland, was removed from its place of sepulture 
at Dunfermline, and deposited in a costly shrine. While the monks were employed in this service, they approached the 
tomb of her husband Malcolm. The body became on a sudden so heavy, that they were obliged to set it down. Still, 
as more hands were employed in raising it, the body became heavier. The spectators stood amazed ; and the humble 
monks imputed this phenomenon to their own unworthiness ; when a bystander cried out, ' The Queen will not stir till 
equal honours are performed to her husband.' This having been done, the body of the Queen was removed with ease." 
Annals, vol. i. p. 303. 

2 Liber Cartarum Sancte Crucis, p. xi. 

3 Father Hay, Ibid. xxii. Richard Augustin Hay, canon of St Genevieve, at Paris, and prospective Abbot of Holyrood 
.at the Revolution, though an industrious antiquary, seems to have had no better authority for this nunnery than the 
disputed name Castrum Puellarum. 


a right to dues to nearly the same amount from the royal revenues at the port of Perth, 
the more ancient capital of Scotland ; justifying the quaint eulogy of his royal descendant, 
that "he was an soir sanct for the crown." 

By another important grant of this charter, liberty is given to the Canons to erect a burgh 
between the Abbey and the town of Edinburgh, over which they are vested with supreme 
rule, with right of trial by duel, and by fire and water ordeal. Hence the origin of the 
burgh of Canongate, afterwards the seat of royalty, and the residence of the Scottish 
nobility, as long as Scotland retained either to herself. In the same charter also, the first 
authentic notice of the parish church of St Cuthbert's, and the chapelries of Corstorphine 
and Libberton are found, by which we learn that that of St Cuthbert's had already, at this 
early date, been endowed with very valuable revenues ; while it confirms to its dependency 
at Libberton, certain donations which had been made to it by " Macbeth of Libberton," 
in the reign of David I., erroneously stated by Arnot " as Macbeth the Usurper. 

The well-known legend of the White Hart most probably had its origin in some real 
occurrence, magnified by the superstition of a rude and illiterate age. More recent obser- 
vations at least suffice to show that it existed at a much earlier date than Lord Hailes 
referred it to. 3 According to the relation of an ancient service-book of the monastery, in 
which it is preserved, King David, in the fourth year of his reign, was residing at the 
Castle of Edinburgh, then surrounded with " ane gret forest, full of hartis, hyndis, toddis, 
and sic like manner of beistis ; " and on the Eood Day, after the celebration of mass, he 
yielded to the solicitations of the young nobles in his train, and set forth to hunt, not- 
withstanding the earnest dissuasions of a holy canon, named Alkwine. " At last, quhen 
he wes cumyn throw the vail that lyis to the eist fra the said Castell, quhare now lyis the 
Cauuongait, the staill past throw the wod with sic noyis and dyn of bugillis, that all the 
bestis wer raisit fra thair dennis." The King, separated from his train, was thrown from 
his horse, and about to be gored by a hart " with auful and braid tyndis," when a cross 
slipt into his ha&ds, at sight of which the hart fled away. And the King was thereafter 
admonished, in a vision, to build the Abbey on the spot. 4 The account is curious, as 
affording a glimpse of the city at that early period, contracted within its narrow limits, 
and encircled by a wild forest, the abode alone of the fox and the hind, where now for 
centuries the busy scenes of a royal burgh have been enacted. 

David I. seems to have been the earliest monarch who permanently occupied the Castle 
as a royal residence an example which was followed by his successors, down to the disas- 
trous period when it was surrendered into the hands of Edward I. ; so that with the reign 
of this monarch, in reality begins the history of Edinburgh, as still indicated to the histo- 
rian in the vestiges that survive at the present day. After the death of David I., we find 
the Castle successively the royal residence of his immediate successor, Malcolm IV., of 
Alexander II. , and of William, surnamed the Lion, until after his defeat and capture by 
Henry II. of England, when it was surrendered with other principal fortresses of the king- 
dom, in ransom for the King's liberty. Fortunately, however, that which was thus lost 
with the fortunes of war, was speedily restored by more peaceful means ; for an alliance 

1 Sir D. Lindsay's Satyre of the Estaitis. Ed. 1806, vol. ii. p. 67. 

2 Arnot, p. 5. Macbeth of Libberton's name occurs as a witness to several royal charters of David I. [1124-53.} 
Vide Liber Cart. Sanctse Crucis, pp. 8 and 9. Macbeth the Usurper was slain 1056. 

" Annals, David I. Liber Cart. Sanctse Crucis, p. xii. 


having been concluded between Ermengarde de Beaumont, cousin to King Henry, Edin- 
burgh Castle was gallantly restored as a dowry to the Queen, after having been held by 
an English garrison for nearly twelve years. 

In the year 1215, Alexander II., the son and successor of "William, convened his first 
Parliament at Edinburgh ; and during the same reign, still further importance was given 
to the rising city, by a Provincial Synod being held in it by Cardinal 1'Aleran, legate from 
Pope Gregory IX. The revenues of Alexander could not rival the costly foundations of 
his great-grandfather, David I. ; but he founded eight monasteries of the Mendicant Order, 
in different parts of Scotland ; one of which, the monastery of -Blackfriars, stood nearly on 
the same spot as the Royal Infirmary now occupies ; near which was the Collegiate Church 
of St Mary-in-the-Field, better known as the Kirk-o'-Field, occupying the site of the 
College all vestiges of which have long since disappeared. But of these we shall treat 
more at large ill their proper place. His son and successor, Alexander III., having been 
betrothed to Margaret, daughter of Henry III. of England, nine years before, their nuptials 
were celebrated at York, in the year 1242. Arnot tells us " the young Queen had Edinburgh 
Castle appointed for her residence ; " but it would seem to have been more in the character 
of a stronghold than a palace ; for, whereas the sumptuousness of her namesake, Queen of 
Malcolm Canmore, the future St Margaret of Scotland, while residing there, excited dis- 
content in the minds of her rude subjects, she describes it as " a sad and solitary place, 
without verdure, and by reason of its vicinity to the sea, unwholesome ; that she was not 
permitted to make excursions through the kingdom, nor to chose her female attendants ; 
and lastly, that she was excluded from all conjugal intercourse with her husband, who by 
this time had completed his fourteenth year." " Redress of her last grievance," Dalrymple 
adds, " was instantly procured, redress of her other grievances was promised." 

Shortly after, the Castle was surprised by Alan Dureward, Patrick Earl of March, and other 
leaders, while their rivals were engaged in preparation for holding a Parliament at Stirling ; 
and the royal pair being liberated from their durance, we shortly afterwards find them hold- 
ing an interview with Henry, at Werk Castle, Northumberland. During the remainder of 
the long and prosperous reign of Alexander III., the Castle of Edinburgh continued to be 
the chief place of the royal residence, as well as for holding his courts for the transaction 
of judicial affairs ; * it was also during his reign the safe depository of the principal records, 
and of the regalia of the kingdom. 2 

From this time onward, through the disastrous wars that ultimately settled the Bruce 
on the throne, and established the independence of Scotland, Edinburgh experienced 
its full share of the national sufferings and temporary humiliation ; in June 1291, the 
town and Castle were surrendered into the hands of Edward I. Holinshed relates that 
he came to Edinburgh, where "he planted his siege about the Castell, and raised engines 
which cast stones against and over the walls, sore beating and bruising the buildings with- 
in; so that it surrendered by force of siege to the King of England's use, on the 15 daie 
after he had first laid his siege about it." 3 He was here also again on 8th July 1292, and 
again on the 29th of the same month ; and here, in May 1296, he received within the 
church in the Castle, the unwilling submission of many magnates of the kingdom, acknow- 
ledging him as Lord Paramount ; and on the 28th of August following, William de 

1 Caledonia, vol. ii. p. 58!!. - Ibid., p. 587. 3 Chronicles, 1586, vol. iii. p. 300, 


Dederyk, Alderman of Edinburgh, with the whole community of the town, swore fealty tc 

the usurper. 

Immediately after the final triumph of the Bruce, few occurrences of importance, in con- 
nection with Edinburgh, are recorded ; though here, on the 8th March 1327, his Parliament 
held its sittings in the Abbey of Holyrood, 1 and here also his sixteenth and last Parlia- 
ment assembled in March 1328. From the glimpses we are able to obtain from time to 
time, it may be inferred that it still occupied a very secondary station among the towns 
of Scotland ; and while the Castle was always an object of importance with every rival 
power, its situation was much too accessible from the English border to be permanently 
chosen as the royal residence. In the interregnum, for example, after the death of Mar- 
garet, the Maid of Norway, we find, in 1304, when a general Parliament was summoned 
by Edward to be held at Perth, for the settlement of Scotland, sheriffs are appointed for 
each of twenty-one burghs named, while Edinburgh is grouped with Haddington and 
Linlitho-ow, under " Ive de Adeburgh ; " 2 and the recapture of the Castle, on two succes- 
sive occasions, by Edward, obtains but a passing notice, amid the stirring interest of the 
campaigns of Bruce. 

Towards the close of 1312, when the persevering valour of Bruce, and the imbecility of 
Edward II., had combined to free nearly every stronghold of Scotland from English garri- 
sons, we find the Castle of Edinburgh held for the English by Piers Leland, a Gascon 
knight ; but when Eandolph, the nephew of the Bruce, laid it under strict blockade, the 
garrison, suspecting his fidelity, thrust him into a dungeon, and prepared, under a newly 
chosen commander, to hold out to the last. Matters were in this state, when a romantic 
incident restored this important fortress to the Scottish arms. William Frank, a soldier, 
who had previously formed one of the Scottish garrison, volunteered to guide the besiegers 
by a steep and intricate path up the cliff, by which he had been accustomed in former years 
to escape during the night from military durance, to enjoy the society of a fair maiden 
of the neighbouring city, of whom he was enamoured. Frequent use had made him fami- 
liar with the perilous ascent ; and, under his guidance, Eandolph, with thirty men, scaled 
the Castle walls at midnight ; and after a determined resistance, the garrison was over- 
powered. Leland, the imprisoned governor, entered the Scottish service on his release, 
and, according to Barbour, was created by the King Viscount of Edinburgh ; but after- 
wards, he adds, he thought that he had an English heart, and made him to be kangit and 

1 Acts of Parliament of Scotland, vol. i. foL a Hailes' Annals, vol. i. p. 285. 

* Ibid., vol. ii. p. 38. 
VIONETTE Ancient stone from Edinburgh Castle, now in the Antiquarian Museum. 


In the commencement of the following reign, during the unfortunate minority of David 
II., the usurper, Edward Baliol, held a Parliament at Edinburgh, 10th February 1333, 
consisting of what are known as the disinherited barons, with seven bishops, including both 
William of Dimkeld, and, it is said, Maurice of Dunblane, the Abbot of Inchaffray, who 
there agreed to the humiliating conditions proposed by Edward III. It is even affirmed 
by Tyrrel, though disproved by later authorities, that Edward attended in person, and 
received the homage of Baliol as Lord Paramount of Scotland; but two years later, Leland 
informs us of his residence at Edinburgh from the 16th to the 26th September, when 
" he received the homage of Robert, sunne to the doughter of Robert Bruse, King of 

Soon after this return of Edward to Scotland, Guy, Count of Namur, landed at Berwick, 
with a considerable body of men-at-arms, to the assistance of the English ; and marching 
upon Edinburgh, its Castle being at that time dismantled and ruinous, he was encountered 
on the Borough-muir by the Earls of Moray and March, with a powerful force, when a 
fierce and bloody battle ensued. In accordance with the chivalrous notions of the times, 
Richard Shaw, a Scottish esquire, was challenged to single combat by a knight in the train 
of the Count of Namur, when, after a brave encounter, each fell, transfixed by the other's 
spear. On the bodies being afterwards stripped of their armour, the chivalrous stranger 
proved to be a woman, who, from some undiscovered cause, had perilled her life in this 
romantic and fatal enterprise. While victory seemed inclining to the enemy, the oppor- 
tune arrival of William de Douglas with a reinforcement determined the fortune of the 
day. The Count's force gave way and retreated, though still in order, and fighting gallantly 
with the pursuing enemy. Part of them, retreating through St Mary's Wynd, were met 
there by a body of Scots, headed by Sir David de Anand, and suifered great slaughter ; 
the few who escaped joined the remainder of the force that had effected a retreat to the 
Castle rock, then dismantled and defenceless, and there piling up a temporary rampart with 
the dead bodies of their horses, they made a last attempt to hold out against the Scottish 
forces. But thirst and hunger compelling them to capitulate on the following day, they 
were suffered by the Earl of Moray to depart, on promising not to bear arms against David 
in the Scottish wars. In the following year the Castle was rebuilt by Edward, and put in 
a state of complete defence, as one of a chain of fortresses, by which he hoped to hold the 
nation in subjection : but while Edinburgh then remained in the hands of the English, the 
adjacent country was filled with predatory bands of Scots, ever ready to take them at 
advantage. Alexander Ramsay, in particular, after having succeeded, with a band of only 
forty resolute men, in raising the siege of Dunbar, concealed himself and his followers in 
the caves, excavated in the cliffs beneath the romantic house of Hawthornden, 1 and so 
ingeniously constructed for concealment, as to elude the vigilance of the most cunning 
enemy to whom the secret was unknown. The entrance is still shown in the side of the 
draw-well, which served at once to cloak its purpose, and to secure for the hiders a ready 

1 On the gable of the old house at Hawthornden, the well-known residence of the poet and historian, is a tablet 
erected by Bishop Abernethy Drummond, with the following inscription : " To the memory of Sir Lawrence Aber- 
nethy of Hawthornden, 2d son of Sir William Abernethy of Salton, a brave and gallant soldier, who, at the head of a 
party, in 1338, conquered Lord Douglas five times in one day, yet was taken prisoner before sunset." Fordun, lib. 
xiii. c. 44. 


supply of water. From thence they sallied out from time to time, as occasions offered, 
and not only harassed the enemy in the neighbouring capital, but extended their inroads 
even as far as into Northumberland. 1 

In 1341, the Castle was recovered from the English by an ingenious stratagem, planned 
by William Bullock, who had previously held the castle of Coupar for Baliol. Under his 
directions, one Walter Curry of Dundee received into his ship two hundred Scots, under 
the command of William dc Douglas, Frazer, and Joachim of Kinbak, and casting anchor 
in Leith Roads, he presented himself to the governor of the Castle, as master of an English 
vessel, just arrived with a valuable cargo of wines and provisions on board, which he offered 
to dispose of for the use of the garrison. The bait took ; and the pretended trader appeared 
at the Castle, according to appointment, early on the following morning, attended by a dozen 
armed followers, disguised as sailors. Upon entering the Castle, they contrived to over- 
turn their casks and hampers, so as to obstruct the closing of the gates, and instantly slew 
the porter and guard. At an appointed signal, Douglas and his men sprung from their 
concealment in the immediate neighbourhood, and, after a fierce conflict, overpowered the 
garrison, and took possession of the Castle, in the name of David II. In the following 
month the young King, with his consort, Johanna, lauded from France, and, within a short 
time, the English were expelled from Scotland. When, a few years afterwards, the disas- 
trous raid of Durham terminated in the defeat of the Scottish army, and the captivity 
of the King, we find, in the treaty for his ransom, the merchants and burgesses of Edin- 
burgh, along with those of Aberdeen, Perth, and Dundee, are held bound for themselves, 
and all the other merchants of Scotland, for its fulfilment. And, ultimately, a Parliament 
was held at Edinburgh, in 1357, for final adjustment of the terms of the royal ransom, where 
the Regent Robert, the steward of Scotland (afterwards King Robert II.), presided ; at 
which, in addition to the clergy and nobles, there were delegates present from seventeen 
burghs, among which Edinburgh appears for the first tune placed at the head. 

After David II. returned from 
England, he resided during his 
latter days in the Castle, to 
which he made extensive ad- 
ditions, enlarging the fortifica- 
tions so recently rebuilt, and 
adding in particular an exten- 
sive building, afterwards known 
by the name of " David's 
Tower," which stood for 200 
years, till battered to pieces in 
the regency of James VI. ; and 
here he died on the 22d February 

1370, in the forty-second year of his age, and was buried in the church of the Abbey of Holy 
rood, before the high altar. He was a brave and gifted prince, who in happier times might 

1 Caledonia, vol. ii. p. 290. 
VIONKTTE The Castle, from a map engraved in 1575, showing King David's Tower. 


have elevated the character of his people. Tradition represents him as beguiling his 
tedious captivity in England with his pencil ; and Barnes relates that he left behind him, 
in a vault in Nottingham Castle, the whole story of our Saviour's passion, curiously 
engraved on a rock with his own hand. 1 

With the death of this unfortunate prince terminated the direct line of the Bruce, that 
had so nobly established, in the independence of Scotland, their right to the throne ; and 
with it, too, may be considered to close the first epoch in the history of the Scottish capital, 
while as yet it was only the occasional seat of her Parliaments, and the temporary residence 
of her prince ; with many of the characteristics of a frontier town, ever on the watch to 
repel the approach of foreign invaders, or with resolute endurance to stand the first brunt 
of the Southron's hostile inroads. 

Abercromby 2 says of it at this time : " Edinburgh was then but a small burgh, or rather, 
as Walsingham calls it, a village, the houses of which, because they were so often exposed 
to incursions from England, being thatched for the most part with straw and turf; and 
when burnt or demolished, were with no great difficulty repaired. The strength of the 
(Jastle, the convenience of the Abbey, the fruitfulness of the adjacent country, and its no 
great distance from the borders, made after kings chuse to reside for the most part, to hold 
their Parliaments, and keep their courts of justice in this place." Their mode of defence 
corresponded with the character of their habitations. When an overwhelming host crossed 
the borders, and poured down in irresistible fury upon the neighbouring Lothians, like the 
borderers of later times, they drove off their cattle, concealed their more bulky wealth, 
and even carried away the straw roofs of their houses, as some security against a conflagra- 
tion, 3 leaving the enemy to wreak their futile vengeance upon the walls, that could be again 
replaced, to satisfy their simple wants, almost ere the retreating foes had reached their 
homes. Yet they never failed to retaliate ; and no sooner had the invaders been starved 
into a retreat from the deserted plains, than the burghers of the smoking hamlet were at 
their heels; and, as Abercromby adds, "Conformably to their usual custom, followed the 
enemy into his own country, and never put up their swords till by a retaliating invasion 
they had made up for their losses." 

To complete the view of national manners at this early period, we shall add the lively 
picture of Froissart, 4 which, notwithstanding the peculiarities incident to a foreigner's 
description of habits altogether new to him, exhibits traits that may still be found under 
comparatively slight modifications at the present day, after all the changes that five cen- 
turies have produced. " The Scots," says he, " are bold and hardy, and much inured to 
war ; they bring no carriages with them, on account of the mountains they have to pass, 
neither do they carry with them any provisions of bread or wine ; they have no occasion 
for pots or caldrons, for they dress the flesh of their cattle in the skins, after they have 
taken them off, and being sure to find plenty of them in the country they invade, they 
carry none with them. Under the flaps of his saddle, each man carries a broad plate of 
metal, 5 and he trusses behind him a bag full of meal. They place this plate over the fire, 

1 Martial Achievements, vol. ii. p. 141. 3 Ibid, voL ii. 189. 

8 Baoatyne, Misc. Edin. Regise Scotorum Desorip. 4 Ibid, voL i. p. 32. 

5 Scottice, A Girdle. 



mix with water their oatmeal ; and when the plate is heated, put a little of the paste upon 
it, and make a thin cake, like a cracknell or biscuit, which they eat to warm their stomachs : 
it is therefore no wonder that they should perform a longer day's march than any other 
soldiers ! " 

V:ONETTE Corbel, from St Giles's Church 



ITH the accession of Kobert II., the first of the 
Stuarts, a new era begins in the history of Edin- 
burgh. From that time may be dated its standing 
as the chief burgh of Scotland, though it did not 
assume the full benefits arising from such a posi- 
tion till the second James ascended the throne. It 
may, indeed, be emphatically termed the capital 
of the Stuarts ; it rose into importance with their 

increasing glory ; it shared in all their triumpns ; it suffered in their disasters ; and with 
the extinction of their line, it seemed to sink from its proud position among the capitals 
of Europe, and to mourn the vanished glories in which it had taken so prominent a part. 
The ancient Chapel of Holyrood, neglected and forgotten by their successors, was left to 
tumble into ruins ; and grass grew on the unfrequented precincts of the Palace, where the 
Jameses had held high court and festival ; and the lovely but unfortunate Mary Stuarr 
had basked in the brief splendour of her first -welcome to the halls of her fathers ; and 
endured the assaults of the rude barons and reformers, with whom she waged so unequal 
a contest. 

During the reigns of the earlier Stuarts, the relative positions of Scotland and England 
continued to preserve more of the character of an armistice in time of war, than any 
approach to settled peace; and in the constant incursions which ensued, Edinburgh ex- 


perienced the same evils formerly resulting from its exposed position. In 1383, 1 we liiid 
King Robert II. holding his court there, and receiving the ambassador of Charles VI. of 
France, with whom he renewed the league entered into with his predecessor; and from 
this time so constant an intercourse was maintained between the two courts, that both the 
manners of the people and the style of building of the Scottish capital were formed on 
the French model traces of which were abundant in the last century, and are not quite 
extinct even in the present day. 

Immediately thereafter, in 1384, the town is found in the hands of the English. The 
Scots, under the Earls of Douglas and March, having begun the war with great success, 
the Duke of Lancaster, at the head of " an army almost innumerable," as Walsingham 
styles it, passed the border, and marched straight to Edinburgh, which, however, he spared 
from the destruction to which it was devoted, in grateful remembrance of his hospitable 
entertainment there, while an exile from the English Court a kindness the Scots showed 
little appreciation of, in the reprisals with which they, as usual, followed him immediately 
on his retreat to England. In requitance of this, he returned the following year and laid 
the town in ashes. 

[1385.] It was in this incursion that the first edifice of St Giles's was destroyed; at 
this time only a parish church, originally in the patronage of the Bishop of Lindisfarn, from 
whom it passed into the hands of the Abbot of Dunfermline. Yet, from the remains of 
the original church that were preserved almost to our own day, it would seem to have been 
a building of great richness and beauty, in the early Norman style. There is a very scarce 
engraving, an impression of which is in the Signet Library, exhibiting a view of a very 
beautiful Norman doorway, destroyed about the year 1 760, in the same reckless manner as 
so many other relics of antiquity have been swept away by our local authorities ; and which 
was, without doubt, a portion of the original building that had survived the conflagration 
in 1385. The ancient church was, doubtless, on a much smaller scale than now, as suited 
to the limits of the town ; thus described by Froissart, in his account of the reception of 
De Kenne, the admiral of France, who came to the assistance of Robert II. at this time : 
" Edinburgh, though the kynge kepte there his chefe resydence, and that is Parys in 
Scotland ; yet it is not like Tourney or Vallenciennes, for in all the towne is not foure 
thousande houses ; therefore it behoved these lordes and knyghts to be lodged about in the 
villages." The reception they met with was in keeping with their lodging. We are told 
the Scots "dyde murmure and grudge, and sayde, Who the devyll hath sent for them? 
cannot we mayntayne our warre with Englande well ynoughe without their helpe ? They 
understand not us, nor we theym; therefore we cannot speke toguyder. They wyll 
annone ryffle, and eat up alle that ever we have in this countrey ; and doo us more dis- 
pytes and damages than thoughe the Englysshemen shulde fyght with us ; for thoughe the 
Englysshe brinne our houses, we care lytell therefore ; we shall make them agayne chepe 
ynough ! " 

In the succeeding reign, at the close of 1390, we again find the ambassadors of Charles 
VI. at the Scottish Court, where they were honourably entertained, and witnessed, in the 
Castle of Edinburgh, the King's putting his hand and seal to the treaty of mutual aid and 
defence against the English, which had been drawn up in the reign of his father. Shortly 

1 Martial Achievements, vol. ii. p. 185. 2 Lord Berners Froissart. 


after this, Henry IV. of England renewed the oft-confuted claim of superiority over Scot- 
land ; and in pursuance of this, wrote letters to the Scottish King, and to the nobles and 
prelates of Scotland, requiring them to meet him at Edinburgh by the 23d of August in 
order to pay the homage due to him as their superior and direct lord. 1 King Henry was 
as good as his word, for with a well-ordered and numerous army, he crossed the Borders, 
and was at Edinburgh before the day he had appointed ; as appears from a letter written 
by him to the King of Scots, dated at Leith, 21st August 1400. 2 While there, the 
Duke of Rothsay, who then held the Castle of Edinburgh, sent him a challenge to meet 
him where he pleased, with an hundred nobles on each side, and so to determine the quar- 
rel. But King Henry was in no humour to forego the advantages he already possessed, 
at the head of a more numerous army than Scotland could raise ; and so contenting him- 
self with a verbal equivocation in reply to this knightly challenge, he sat down with his 
numerous host before the Castle, till (with the usual consequences of the Scottish recep- 
tion of such invaders), cold and rain, and absolute dearth of provisions, compelled him to 
raise the inglorious siege and hastily recross the Border, without doing any notable injury 
either in his progress or retreat. 

During the minority of James L, the royal poet, and his tedious captivity of nineteen 
years in England, Edinburgh continued to partake of all the uncertain vicissitudes of the 
capital of a kingdom under delegated government, though still prosperous enough to con- 
tribute 50,000 merks towards the payment of his ransom. When at length he did return 
to enter on the cares of royalty, his politic plans for the control of the Highland clans seem 
to have led to the almost constant assembly of the Parliaments, as well as his frequent 
residence at Perth. Yet, in 1430, we find him residing in Edinburgh, attended by his Queen 
and court, as appears from accounts of the surrender of the Earl of Ross. At this time, 
the rebellious Earl, having made a vain attempt to hold out against the resolute measures 
of the King, wrote to his friends at court to mediate a peace ; but finding their efforts un- 
availing, he came privately to Edinburgh, 3 where, having watched a fit opportunity, when 
the King and Queen were in the church of Holyrood Abbey at divine service, he prostrated 
himself on his knees, and holding the point of his sword in his own hand, presented the 
bilt to the King, intimating that he put his life at his Majesty's mercy. At the request of 
the Queen, King James granted him his life, but confined him for a time in the castle of 
Tantallan. His imprisonment, however, seems to have been brief, and the reconciliation, 
on the King's part at least, sincere and effectual ; for the Queen having shortly after this 
given birth to two sons Alexander, who died soon after; and James, afterwards the 
second monarch of the name ; the King not only liberated him, with many other prisoners, 
but is said to have selected him to stand sponsor for the royal infants at the font. 

The style of building, still prevalent at this period, was of the same rude and fragile 
nature as we have already described at an earlier period ; and repeated enactments occur, 
intended to avert the dangerous conflagrations to which the citizens were thus liable. In 
the third Parliament of this reign, a series of stringent laws were passed, requiring the 
magistrates to keep " siven or aught twenty fute ledders, as well as three or foure sayes to 
the commoun use, and sex or maa cleikes of iron, to draw down timber and ruiffes that are 
fired." And, again, " that na fire be fetched fra ane house, til ane uther within the town, 

' -Martial Achievements, vol. ii. p. 200. * Ibid, p. 215. 3 Ibid, p. 289. 


bot within covered veshel or lantcrue, under the paine of aue uulaw ; " l from all which it 
would seem that the houses were still mostly wooden tenements, thatched with straw, and 
never higher than two storeys. The nobility had not yet begun to build mansions for their 

residence in the capital while 
attending on the court; but 
continued to take up their 
abode in the monasteries, ac- 
cording to the fashion of the 

Still earlier in the same 
reign, all travellers are forbid 
to lodge with their friends 
when they visit the borough, 
but in the " hostillaries ; bot 
gif it be the persones that 
leadis monie with them in 
companie, that sail have 
fricdome to harberie with 
their friends; swa that their 
horse and their meinze be 
harberied and ludged in the 
commoun hostillaries ; " and 
burgesses are forbid to harbour their friends under pain of forty shillings. 

In this and the following reign, occur successive sumptuary laws, which give considerable 
insight into the manners of the age. All save knights and lords, of at least 200 merks 
yearly rent, are prohibited from wearing silk or furs, of various descriptions ; " and none 
uther were borderie, pearle, nor bulzeone, bot array them in honest arrairnents, as serpes, 
beltes, broches, and cheinzies." While, again in the fourteenth Parliament of James II., 
held in Edinburgh in 1457, the ladies seem to have called down such restrictions upon 
them in an especial manner, by their love of display. It is there required of the citizens, 
" that they make their wifes and dauchters gangand correspondaut for their estate ; that 
is to say, on their heads short curches, with little hudes ; and as to their gownes, that na 
women weare mertrickes nor letteis, nor tailes unfitt in length, nor furred under, bot on the 
Halie-daie. And, in like manner, the barronnes and other puir gentlemen's wives. That 
iia laborers nor husbandmen weare on the warke daye, bot gray and quhite : and on the 
Halie-daie, bot lichtblew, greene, redde, and their wives richt-swa ; and courchies of their 
awin making, not exceeding the price of xl. pennyes the elne." 

On the 21st of February 1438, James L, the poet, the soldier, and the statesman, fell 
by the hands of his rebellious subjects, in the convent of the Dominicans at Perth, spread- 
ing sorrow and indignation over the kingdom. Within less than forty days thereafter, all 
the conspirators had been apprehended and brought to Edinburgh for trial. The meaner 
sort were left to the hangman ; but for their titled leaders, the ingenuity of a barbarous 

1 Soots Acts, 12rao. 3d and 4th Parliaments, J runes I. 
VIGN'ETTE Ancient houses near the Kirk-of-Field, from a map 1575. 


age was exercised to devise more novel and exquisite tortures to satisfy the indignation of 
the people. The sufferings of the Earl of Athol were prolonged through three days; on 
the second of which he was elevated on a pillar at the cross, to the gaze of the people, and 
with a hot iron coronet, crowned in derision as the King of Traitors. On the third day, 
he was dragged on a hurdle through the High Street to the place of public execution, 
where, after further indignities, he was at length beheaded, and his head exposed on a pole 
at the cross the body being quartered and sent to the four chief towns of the kingdom. 
With the like barbarous indignities, Robert Graham, the most active of the regicides, 
suffered at the same time and place. 

JSneas Sylvius, who afterwards filled the papal chair as Pope Pius II., was at this time 
resident in Edinburgh, as the Pope's nuncio for Scotland, and witnessed, as Abercromby 
says, " with some horror, but more admiration," l these executions. The remark of the 
Italian ecclesiastic, " that he was at a loss to determine whether the crime of the regicides, 
or the punishment inflicted on them by the justice of the nation, was the greatest "would 
not seem to imply any censure on the bloody revenge with which the Scottish Capital thus 
expressed her indignation on the murderers of her King. 

King James II. was not above seven years old, when the officers of state called a 
Parliament in his name, which accordingly met at Edinburgh on the 20th of March 1438. 
Their first act was the condemnation, already recorded, of the regicides ; and thereafter, the 
youthful Sovereign was brought from the Castle, where he had been lodged since shortly 
after his birth, attended by the three estates of the kingdom ; and being conducted in state 
to Holyrood Abbey, was there crowned witli great magnificence the first of the Scottish 
Kings that is thus united, in birth and royal honours, with the capital of the kingdom. 
During the two succeeding years, he continued to reside entirely in the Castle, under 
custody of the Chancellor Crichton, greatly to the displeasure of the Queen and her party, 
who thus found him placed entirely beyond their control. She accordingly visited Edinburgh, 
professing great friendship for the Chancellor, and a longing desire to see her son ; by which 
means she completely won the goodwill of the old statesman, and obtained ready access, 
with her retinue, to visit the Prince in the Castle, and take up her abode there. At length 
having lulled all suspicion, she gave out that she had made a vow to pass in pilgrimage to 
the White Kirk of Brechin, for the health of her son ; 2 and bidding adieu to the Chancellor 
over night, with many earnest recommendations of the young King to his fidelity and care, 
she retired to her devotions, having to depart at early dawn on the ensuing morrow. Im- 
mediately on being left at liberty, the King was cautiously pinned up among the linen and 
furniture of his mother, and so conveyed in a chest to Leith, and from thence by water to 
Stirling, into the hands of Sir Archibald Livingstone. Immediately thereafter, the latter 
raised an army and laid siege to the Chancellor in the Castle of Edinburgh ; but the wary 
statesman, having lost the control of the King, wisely effected a compromise with his 
opponent, and delivering the keys into the King's own hands, they both supped with him 
the same night in the Castle, and, on the following day, he confirmed the one in his office 
of Chancellor, and the other in that of guardian of his person. This state of affairs did 
not continue long, however, for Sir Archibald Livingstone having quarrelled with the 
Queen, the King was shortly afterwards again carried off and restored to the guardianship 

1 Marlial Achievements, vol. ii. p. 310. a Lindsay of Pitscottie, vol. i. p. 7. 


of the Chancellor, in the Castle of Edinburgh. His increasing years, however, seem to 
have led to his enjoying greater liberty of person, as well as deference to his opinion. 
Under the guidance of the Bishops of Aberdeen and Moray, then residing in Edinburgh, 
' a conference was held in the church of St Giles, between him and his rival guardians, 
which, from their mutual hatred to the Earl of Douglas, again led to an amicable arrange- 
ment, the King making choice of Edinburgh Castle as the place where he should continue 
to reside. 

No sooner were the rival statesmen reconciled, than they consulted together to secure 
the overthrow of the Douglas, whose exorbitant power was employed for the most oppres- 
sive and tyrannical objects. To have openly proceeded against him as a criminal, while a< 
the head of his numerous forces, would only have proved the sequel for a civil war. He 
was accordingly invited to Edinburgh, with the most flattering assurances of friendship. 
On the way, the Chancellor met him at Crichton Castle, about twelve miles S.E. of 
Edinburgh, where he was entertained with every mark of hospitality, insomuch so as to 
have excited the jealous fears of his friends. He rode thereafter to the Castle of Edinburgh, 
accompanied by his brother and Sir Malcolm Fleming of Cumbcrnauld : they were received 
with every show of welcome, and admitted to the same table with the King ; but, towards 
the close of the entertainment, a bull's head, the well-known symbol of destruction, was 
set before them. They recognised the fatal signal, and sprang from the board, but being 
immediately surrounded by armed men, they were led forth, in defiance of the tears and 
entreaties of the young King, and immediately beheaded " in the back court of the Castle 
that lyeth to the west ; " 1 or, according to Balfour, in the great hall of the Castle. 2 In the 
year 1753, some workmen digging for a foundation to a new storehouse within the Castle, 
found the golden handles and plates of a coffin, which are supposed to have belonged to 
that in which the Earl of Douglas was interred. 3 

From a protest afterwards taken by the son of Sir Malcolm Fleming, against the 
sentence of his father, as being unwarrantable and illegal, as well as from the fact of no 
attempt being made to bring the Chancellor to trial for the deed when the Douglas faction 
prevailed, there would seem to have been some form of trial, and a sentence of condemna- 
tion pronounced, with the assumed authority of the King. 4 The popular estimation of the 
deed may be inferred from the rude rhymes quoted by Hume of Godscroft : 

" Edinburgh Castle, towne and tower, 

God grant thou sinke for sinne ; 
An' that even for the black dinner 
Eavle Douglas gat therein." 

The Chancellor continued to maintain possession of the Castle, even when the Douglas 
party succeeded in obtaining the guardianship of the young King, and used the royal 
authority for demanding its surrender. Here he held out during a siege of nine months, 
till he succeeded in securing satisfactory terms for himself; while of his less fortunate 
coadjutors some only redeemed their lives with their estates, and the others, including 
three members of the Livingstone family, were all tried and beheaded within its walls. 

^ History of the Douglasses, 1643, p. 155. * Balfours Auuals, vol. i. p. 169. 

' Al '" ot < P- 11- 4 Martial Achievements, vol. ii. p. 330. 


The increasing importance which the royal capital was now assuming, speedily drew 
attention to its exposed situation. In the reign of Robert II. the singular privilege had 
been conceded to the principal inhabitants, of building dwellings within the Castle, so as 
to secure their families and wealth from the constant inroads of the English ; but now, in 
the year 1450, immediately after the battle of Sark, the ancient city was enclosed within 
fortified walls, traces of which still exist. They extended along the south declivity of the 
ridge on which the older parts of the town are built ; after crossing the West Bow, then 
the principal entrance to the city, from the west ; and running between the High Street, 
and the hollow where the Cowgate was afterwards built, they crossed the ridge at the 
Nether Bow, and terminated at the east end of the North Loch. Within these ancient 
limits the Scottish capital must have possessed peculiar means of defence ; a city set on a 
hill, arid guarded by the rocky fortress " There watching high the least alarms," it only 
wanted such ramparts, manned by its burgher watch, to enable it to give protection to its 
princes, and repel the inroads of the southern invader. The important position which it 
now held, may be inferred from the investment in the following year of Patrick Cockburn 
of Newbigging, the Provost of Edinburgh, in the chancellor's office as governor of the 
Castle ; as well as his appointment along with other commissioners, after the defeat of the 
English in the battle of Sark, to treat for the renewal of a truce. To this the young 
King, now about twenty years of age, was the more induced, from his anxiety to see his 
bride, Mary of Guelders, " a lady," says Drummond, " young, beautiful, and of a mas- 
culine constitution," whose passage from the Netherlands was only delayed till secure 
of hindrance from the English fleet. 

She accordingly arrived in Scotland, accompanied by a 
numerous retinue of princes, prelates, and noblemen, who 
were entertained with every mark of royal hospitality, and 
witnessed the solemnisation of the marriage, as well as the 
coronation, of the young Queen thereafter, both of which 
took place in the Abbey of Holyrood, with the utmost pomp 
and solemnity. 

The first fruit of this marriage seems to have been the 
rebellion of the Earl of Douglas, who, jealous of the influence 
that the Lord Chancellor Crichtou had acquired with the 
Queen, almost immediately thereafter proceeded to revenge 
his private quarrel with fire and sword ; so that in the begin- 
ning of the following year, a Parliament was assembled at 
Edinburgh, whose first enactments were directed against such 
encroachments on the royal prerogative. His further deeds of blood and rapine, at length 
closed by a hasty blow of the King's dagger in Stirling Castle, belong rather to Scottish 
history ; as well as the death of the Monarch himself shortly after, by the bursting of the 
Lyon, a famous cannon, at the siege of Roxburgh Castle, in the year 1460. 

At this time, Henry VI. , the exiled King of England, with his heroic Queen and son, 
sought shelter at the Scottish Court, where they were fitly lodged in the monastery of the 
Greyfriars, in the Grassmarket ; and so hospitably entertained by the court and citizens of 

VIGNETTE Mary of Guelderb' Arms from her seal. 


Edinburgh, that in requital thereof, he granted to them a charter, empowering the Iree 
citizens to trade to any part of England, subject to no other duties than those payable 
by the most highly favoured natives: in acknowledgment, as he states, of the humane and 
honourable treatment he had received from the provost, ministers, and burgesses of 
Edinburgh. As, however, the house of Lancaster never regained the crown, the charter 
survived only as an honourable acknowledgment of their services. 

About this time it was that the Collegiate Church of the Holy Trinity, and the Hospi- 
tal attached to it, were founded by the Queen Dowager, Mary of Guelders : and here the 
royal foundress was interred in the year 1463. 

In 1471, the Scottish capital again witnessed a royal marriage and coronation; Mar- 
garet, Princess of Denmark, having landed at Leith in the month of July of that year, 
where she was received with every demonstration of welcome and rejoicing. The courtly 
historians of the period describe her as winning the favour of both Prince and people, by 
a beauty and grace rarely equalled among the ladies of the age. Lindsay of Pitscottie 
tidds " The gentlevoman being bot twelff yeires of age at the tyme." l The alliance 
was further rendered acceptable to the nation, by the royal bridegroom, King James III., 
having " gatt with the King of Denmarkis dochter, in tocher guid, the landis of Orkney 
and Zetland." To all this we may add, from Abercromby 2 " The very sight of such a 
Queen could not but endear her to all ranks of people, who, to congratulate her happy 
arrival, and to create in her a good opinion of themselves and the country, entertained her 
and her princely train for many days, with such variety of shows, and such delicious and 
costly feasts, that Ferrerius, a foreigner, who had seen all the gallantry and pomp of the 
Courts of France and Savoy, tells us that no pen can describe them so much to the ad- 
vantage as they deserve." It is to be regretted that a more detailed account of this royal 
reception has not been given, as it would better than any other have served to convey a 
lively picture of the manners of the citizens, and the character of the Scottish capital at 
this period. 

These joyous proceedings speedily gave place to others of a very different character. 
The historians, in accordance with the credulity of the times, have preserved the tradition 
of numerous prophecies and omens, wherewith the king was forewarned of the troubles that 
awaited him, and his jealousy excited against his brothers. The youngest of them, the 
Earl of Mar, was committed a prisoner to Craigmillar Castle, from whence he was after- 
wards permitted to remove to the Canongate, when suffering under a violent fever, of 
which he died there, under the care of the King's physician ; not without suspicion of foul 
play. After his death, some reputed witches were tried at Edinburgh, and condemned to 
the stake, for plotting, along with him, the death of the King ; and these, according to the 
historians of the time, confessed that the Earl had dealt with them to have him taken away 
by incantation " For the King's image being framed in wax, and with many spells and 
incantations baptized, and set unto a fire, they persuaded themselves the King's person 
should fall away as it consumed." 8 

The successful confederacy against Cochrane, the succeeding Earl of Mar, and the other 
royal favourites, belong not to our subject. But immediately thereafter, in 1481, we find 
the King a captive in the Castle of Edinburgh, which served alternately as a palace and a 

1 Pitscottie, vol. i. p. 176. Martial Achievements, vol. ii. p. 407. Drum, of Hawthoraden, p. 48. 


prison, down to the accession of James VI. to the English throne ; and often, as in the 
present case, fulfilled the double purpose at once. Not only was he held in a sort of hon- 
ourable durance there by his rebellious barons; having, according to Drummond, "all 
the honour which appertained to a Prince, save that he could not come abroad, and none 
were permitted to speak unto him, except in the audience of his lord-keeper ; his chamber 
doors were shut before the setting of the sun, and long after the rising opened ; such who 
only heard of him could not but take him to be a free and absolute Prince ; yet when 
nearly viewed, he was but a King in phantasy, and his throne but a picture ! " but, at the 
same time, there lay within its dungeons the King's own prisoner, the Earl of Douglas ; 
to whom, in this extremity, he at last made unsuccessful overtures of reconciliation. 

The King having at length appealed, through the Duke of Albany, to Edward IV. of 
England, the Duke of Gloucester marched to Edinburgh at the head of ten thousand men, 
and encamped with them on the Borough Muir, at the very time when the rebellious barons 
were assembled in council, in the Tolbooth. Here the Duke of Albany, who continued to 
assume a very specious show of loyalty, joined them, attended by the Duke of Gloucester, 
and about a thousand English and Scottish gentlemen ; and the parties having come to 
terms, two heralds-at-arms were commanded to pass with them, to charge the captain of 
the Castle to open the gates, and set the King's grace at liberty ; who, if Lindsay is to be 
relied upon, somewhat contrary to our modern notions of kingly dignity, forthwith " lap on a 
hackney to ride down to the Abbay : but he would not ride forward, till the Duik of Albanie 
his brother lap on behind him ; and so they went down the geat to the Abbey of Hally- 
ruid hous, quhair they remained ane long tyme in great mirrines ; " l and, as Abercromby 
adds, he " would needs make him & partner in his bed, and a comrade at his table." On 
the following day, William Bertraham, the Provost of Edinburgh, and with him the 
whole fellowship of merchants, burgesses, and community of the said town, loyally and gene- 
rously obliged themselves to repay to the King of England, under certain circumstances, 
the dowry to his daughter, the Lady Cecil ; or otherwise, " undertook for the King of Scot- 
laud, their Sovereign Lord, that he should concur in his former obligations, provided he 
or they, the said provosts and merchants, were informed of the King of England's pleasure, 
by the next Feast of All Saints ; " which obligations they afterwards fulfilled, repaying the 
money, amounting to 6000 merks sterling, upon the demand of Garter King-at-Arms, the 
King of England's messenger. In acknowledgment of this loyal service, the King granted 
to the city a deed, in 1492, by which the provost and bailies were created sheriffs within 
all the bounds of their own territories, and rewarded with other important privileges con- 
tained in that patent, which is known by the name of the Golden Charter. 2 He also con- 
ferred upon the craftsmen the famous banner, long the rallying point of the burgher ward 
in every civil commotion, or muster for war, which is still preserved by the incorporated 
trades, and known by the popular title of the Blue Blanket, The history of this famous 
banner has been written by Alexander Pennycuik, an enthusiastic guild brother of the last 
century, who begins the record " When the Omnipotent Architect had built the glorious 
fabric of this world ! " and after recording for the consolation of his brother craftsmen, that 
" Adam's eldest eon was educate a plowman, and his brother a grazier," with many other 
flattering instances of " God's distinguishing honour put upon tradesmen," he tells that 

1 Pitscottie, vol. i. p. 200. 2 Drum, of Hawthorn, p. 52. 



the order of the Blue Blanket was instituted by Pope Urban II., about 1200, and so is 
older than any order of knighthood in Europe. According to this author, vast numbers of 
Scottish mechanics having followed to the Holy War, took with them a banner bearing 
the inscription "In bona voluntate tua edificenter muri Jerusalem,' 1 '' which they styled 
the banner of the Holy Ghost, though, from its colour, familiarly called " The Blue Blan- 
ket ; " and this, on their return, they dedicated to St Eloi's altar in St Giles's Church. 
Whatever foundation there may be for this remoter origin, it is undoubted that James 
HI. at this time, in requital of the eminent services of the burghers, confirmed them 
in many privileges, and bestowed on them this ensign, with their heraldic bearings 
embroidered by the Queen's own hands. It has ever since been kept in the charge of the 
kirk-master or deacon-convener of the crafts for the time being ; every burgher, not only 
of the capital, but of Scotland, being held bound to rally at the summons, when it is 

Within a brief period after the incidents related, the Duke of Albany being confined a 
prisoner in the Castle, succeeded in effecting his escape in a very daring fashion. His rivals 
having just obtained their own deliverance, " counselled the King to justify * the Duke 
his brother ; " which being known at the court of France, a French ship arrived in Leith 
Roads the very day before his intended "justification," the captain of which sent a 
messenger to the Duke, offering to supply him with a stock of wines ; and a confidential 
servant being thereupon sent for " two bosses full of Malvesy ; " they were returned by him, 
the one containing a letter informing him of the design against his life, and the other filled 
with cord to aid him in his escape. Acting on this advice, he invited the captain of the 
Castle to supper, and so liberally dispensed the supposed new supply of wine among his 
guard, that watching his opportunity, he and his faithful attendant succeeded in over- 
powering them, and putting them to the sword ; and escaping to an unguarded wall of 
the Castle, they let themselves down by the cord, and so escaped to the French ship ; the 
Duke carrying his attendant on his back, his thigh, having been broken in dropping 
from the wall. So that his escape was not discovered till the nobles arrived on the fol- 
lowing morning to wait on the King then himself residing in the Castle and to witness 
the execution. 

During this and succeeding reigns, the Parliaments continued to assemble generally at 
Edinburgh, although Stirling Castle was the favourite residence of James III., where he 
retired from the cares of the state ; and there in particular he found opportunity for display- 
ing that love for " building and trimming up of chapels, halls, and gardens," 2 with which 
Drummond charges him, as a taste that usually pertains to the lovers of idleness. His love 
of display seems to have been shown on every opportunity during his residence at Edin- 
burgh. We learn from the same authority, he acquired an easily won character for devo- 
tion, by his habit of riding in procession from the Abbey of Holyrood to the churches in 
the high town,' every Wednesday and Friday. 

King James III. was slain on the 8th of June 1488, by his own rebellious nobles, 
on the field of Stirling, nearly on the same arena as had been the scene of Scotland's 
greatest victory under the Bruce. Whatever view the historian may take of this Mon- 
arch's character and influence on the nation, he contributed more than any other of the 

1 Put to death. 2 Hawthornden, p. 61. 



Stuart race towards the permanent prosperity of the Scottish capital. By favour of his 
charters, its local jurisdiction was left almost exclusively in the hands of its own magis- 
trates ; on them were conferred ample powers for enacting laws for its governance ; with 
authority, in life and death still vested in its chief magistrate an independence which 
was afterwards defended amid many dangers, down to the period of the Union. By his 
charters also in their favour, they obtained the right, which they still hold, to all the 
customs of the haven and harbour of Leith, with the proprietorship of the adjacent coast, 
and of all the roads leading thereto ; as well as many special privileges conferred on the 
craftsmen, which they were not slow to protect from encroachment ; as his descendant 
James VI. points out to his son Prince Henry, in the Basilicon Doron " The craftsmen 
think we should be content with their work, how bad soever it be ; and if in any thing 
they be controuled, up goes the Blue Blanket ! " 

Bishop Kennedy's Arms from the choir of St Giles's Church. 



AMES IV. was crowned at Edinburgh in June 1488, under 
very inauspicious circumstances. His tender age seemed to 
hold out a very unpromising future, under the guidance of 
such councillors as had already made him their tool in the 
Field of Stirling. Yet his reign of twenty-five years is one of the brightest in our national 
history, and furnishes many valuable local associations, as well as curious traditions con- 
nected with our present subject. 

The opening scenes of this eventful reign introduce to our notice Sir Andrew Wood, 
the most famous of our Scottish seamen, whose undaunted courage and loyalty shone con- 
spicuously, while yet the death of his royal master, James III., remained uncertain. 

The Prince, as James IV. was still called, had assembled the nobility adhering to him, 
along with their followers at Leith, from whence messengers were despatched to Sir 
Andrew's ships, then lying in the Firth, to ascertain if the King had found refuge on 
board; and, if not, to endeavour to engage his adherence to their party. 1 The sturdy sea- 
man indignantly rejected the latter proposition, and refused to come on shore, till certain 
of the nobility were delivered up as hostages for his safe return ; and he being detained 
long on shore, his noble substitutes, the Lords Seton and Fleming, narrowly escaped the 
halter, by his opportune arrival. 2 

Immediately after the coronation of the young King, his heralds were sent to demand 
the restitution of the Castle in his name ; and this, with other royal strongholds, being 
promptly surrendered to his summons, he assumed the throne without further obstacles. 
Towards the close of the same year, 1488, his first Parliament assembled within the 

1 Martial Achievements, vol. ii. p. 489. 2 Pitscottie, vol. i. p. 225. 

VISNETTE The Castle, from the West Tort, J. G., about 1640. 


Tol booth of Edinburgh, and under the influence of the leaders at the Field of Stirling, 
enacted, in his name, many harsh and unjust laws, directed against the adherents of the late 
King, involving suspension or deprivation to all officers of state, and handing over " all 
churchmen taken in armour, to their ordinaries, to be punished according to law." The first 
occurrence that tended to rescue the King from implicit confidence in his father's enemies, 
was the splendid victory obtained by Sir Andrew Wood, over a fleet sent by Henry VII. 
of England, to execute reprisals on the murderers of the late King. They had committed 
great ravages on the Scottish shipping, and completely blockaded the mouth of the Forth ; 
when Sir Andrew sailed against them, and with an inferior force, completely defeated, and 
brought the whole armament, consisting of five large ships, into Leith. Shortly after this, 
the King concluded a truce with England, and on the 15th day of February 1490, his second 
Parliament met at Edinburgh, and again another in the following year, both of which 
enacted many salutary laws ; and, at the same time, Andrew Foreman, Protonotary of Pope 
Alexander VI., arrived at the Scottish Court with consolatory letters to the King, whose 
grief at the share he had taken in the fatal rebellion against his father still manifested itself 
in severe penances and mortifications. He was also the bearer of a bull, addressed to the 
abbots of Paisley and Jedburgh, 1 empowering them to absolve and readmit into the church 
all such as had been accessory to the death of King James III. of famous memory, on 
their expressing sincere repentance for the same. 2 And now the King, drawing towards 
manhood, the ominous clouds that had threatened the commencement of his reign dis- 
appeared, and a long and prosperous calm succeeding his early troubles, left him free to 
give the rein to his chivalrous tastes, and extend his royal patronage to the many eminent 
men that adorned the Scottish Court. 

During this reign, Edinburgh became celebrated throughout Europe, as the scene of 
knightly feats of arms. " In this country," says Arnot, " tournaments are of great anti- 
quity ; they were held in Edinburgh in the reign of William the Lion, and in those of 
many of the succeeding Princes. The valley or low ground lying between the wester road 
to Leith, and the rock at Lochend, was bestowed by James II. on the community of Edin- 
burgh, for the special purpose of holding tournaments and other martial sports." 3 Here, 
most probably, the weaponshaws which were of such constant recurrence at a later period, 
as well as such martial parades as were summoned by civic authority, were held, unless in 
cases of actual preparation for war, when the Borough Muir seems to have been invariably 
the appointed place of rendezvous. The favourite scene of royal tournaments, however, 
was a spot of ground near the King's Stables, just below the Castle wall. Here James 
IV., in particular, often assembled his lords and barons, by proclamation, for jousting ; 
offering such meeds of honour as a spear headed with gold, and the like favours, presented 
to the victor by the King's own hand ; so that " the fame of his justing and turney spread 
throw all Europe, quhilk caused many errand knyghtis cum out of vther pairtes to Scotland 
to seik justing, becaus they hard of the kinglie fame of the Prince of Scotland. Bot few 
or none of thame passed away vnmached, and oftymes overthrow ne."* 

One notable encounter is specially recorded, which took place between Sir John Cock- 
bewis, a Dutch knight, and Sir Patrick Hamilton. " Being assembled togidder on great 

1 Hawthornden, p. 68. '-' Martial Achievements, vol. ii. p. 497. 

3 Aruot, p. 71. * Pitscottie, vol. ii. p. 246. 


horsis under the Castle wall, in the barrace," the Scottish knight's horse having failed 
him in the first onset, they encountered on foot, continuing the contest for a full hour, till 
the Dutchman being struck to the ground, the King cast his hat over the Castle wall as a 
signal to stay the combat, while the heralds and trumpeters proclaimed Sir Patrick the 

A royal experiment, of a more subtle nature, may be worth recording, as a sample of 
the manners of the age. The King caused a dumb woman to be transported to the neigh- 
bouring island of Inchkeith, and there being properly lodged and provisioned, two infants 
were entrusted to her care, in order to discover by the language they should adopt, what 
was the original human tongue. The result seems to have been very satisfactory, as, after 

allowing them a sufficient time, 
it was found that " they spak very 
guid Ebrew ! " 

But it is not alone by knightly 
feats of arms, and the rude chi- 
valry of the Middle Ages, that 
the court of James IV. is distin- 
guished. The Scottish capital, 
during his reign, was the residence 
of men high in every department 
of learning and the arts. 

Gawin Douglas, afterwards 
Bishop of Dunkeld, the well- 
known author of " The Palice of 
Honour," and the translator of 
Virgil's .ZEneid into Scottish 
verse, was at this time Provost 
of St Giles's, 1 and dedicated his 
poem to the 

"Maist gracious Prince ouir Souerain James the Feird, 
Supreme honour renoun of cheualrie." 

Dunbar, " the greatest poet that Scotland has produced," * was in close and familiar 
attendance on the court, and with him Kennedy, " his kindly foe," and Sir John Ross, and 
' Gentill Roull of Corstorphine," as well as others afterwards enumerated by Dunbar, in his 
" Lament for the Makaris." Many characteristic and very graphic allusions to the manners 
of the age have been preserved in the poems that still exist, by them affording a curious 
insight into the Scottish city and capital of the James's. Indeed, the local and temporary 
allusions that occur in their most serious pieces, are often quaint and amusing, in the highest 
degree, as in Kennedy's " Passioun of Crist :" 

" In the Tolbuth then Pilot enterit in, 
Callit on Christ, and sperit gif He wes King ? " 

1 Keith's Bishops, 8vo, 1824, p. 468. Kills' Specimens, 8vo, 1845, vol. i. p. 304. 

VIGNETTE North-east pillar, St Giles's choir. 


And in Duubar's " Droichis part of the Play ; " 

" My name is WELTH, thairfor be blyth, 
I come heir comfort yow to kyth ; 
Supposs that wretchis wryng and wryth, 

All darth I sail gar d6 ; 
For sekerly, the treuth to tell, 
I come amang yow heir to duell ; 
Fra sound of Sanct Gelis bell, 

Nvir think I to fld 

" Quharfor in Scotland come I heir, 
With yow to byde and perseveir, 
In Edinburgh, quhar is meriast cheir, 

Plesans, disport and play ; 
Quhilk is the lampe, and A per se, 
Of this regioun, in all degre, 
Of welefair, and of honeste", 

Renoune, and riche aray." 

Other local allusions of a similar nature might be selected, but these may suffice as 

In the year 1496, Edinburgh was visited by the famous Perkin Warbeck, 2 the 
reputed Duke of York, who was murdered in the Tower. He arrived with a rich equipage 
aiid a gallant train of followers, and was received by the King with every token of sin- 
cerity, as the unfortunate Richard Plantagenet, son to King Edward IV. It is not easy 
now, nor is it our province to decide, how far the King was really imposed on by his 
specious tale, or if he was solely actuated by reasons of state policy. He undoubtedly 
espoused his cause with zeal ; involving, as it did, not only a breach with his intended 
father-in-law, Henry VII. ; but the immediate prospect of a war with England, an event 
seemingly at no time an object of great dislike to the Scottish nation : and, moreover, tes- 
tified the sincerity of his partizanship, by giving him in marriage his own kinswoman, the 
Lady Catherine Gordon, whose beauty long after procured her at the English Court the 
name of the White Rose. The peaceful policy of the English Monarch speedily won over 
the inclinations of his future son-in-law, and the negotiations were renewed for the mar- 
riage of James with the Princess Margaret ; at the same time that messengers arrived at 
Holyrood Palace, bearing, as a gift from Pope Julius II. to the Scottish King, a sword 
and diadem wrought with flowers of gold, which had been consecrated by him on Christ- 
mas eve ; 3 the former of which is still preserved among the Scottish regalia, in Edinburgh 

Fully four years elapsed between the conclusion of the treaty of marriage and its fulfil- 
ment ; and during that time, the King was actively occupied in preparations for the recep- 
tion of his bride. Up to this time, the Scottish Kings seem to have resided at the Abbey 
of Holyrood, as the abbot's guests : but he now set earnestly to work, " for the bigg'ing of 
a palace beside the Abbay of the Haly Croce," 4 the only part of which still in existence 
is the " for-yet " or vaulted gateway to the Abbey Court, the south wall and other remains 
of which may yet be seen in the Court-house of the Abbey, the indications of the arches 
of its groined roof being still visible on the outer wall. The Treasurer's accounts of the 

1 Dunbar's Poems, vol. ii. p. 41. 2 Martial Achieve., vol. ii. p. 506. 

3 Hawthornden, p. 69. 4 Liber Cartarum Sanctte Crucie, Pref. 56. 


expenses of the building, preserve a valuable record of its progress and character ; uo 
expense seems to have been spared to render it a fitting residence for the future Queen. 
Though some idea of the homely fashion of building still common, may be inferred from 
an allusion of Dunbar, in his poem of the " Warld's Instabilitie : " 

" Greit Abbais grayth I nill to gather, 
Bot ane Kirk scant coverit with hadder I " 

James IV. was not only an eminent encourager of literature, but by fame reputed both a 
poet and musician, though nothing survives from his pen but the metrical order to his 
treasurer, in reply to " The Petition of the Grey Horse, Auld Dunbar ; " but whatever 
may have been the value of his own productions, his taste is abundantly proved by the 
eminent men he drew around him. 

Gawin Douglas undoubtedly owed his favour at court, as well as the friendship and 
patronage of the Queen, and the partiality of Leo X. at a later period, to his learning and 
talents, when through their good offices, he obtained, against the most violent opposition, 
his appointment to the bishopric of Dunkeld in 1516. Kennedy, too, seems to have been 
a constant attendant at court, while Dunbar was on the most intimate footing with 
his royal master, and employed by him on the most confidential missions to foreign courts. 
In 1501, he visited England with the ambassadors sent to conclude the negotiations for 
the King's marriage, and to witness the ceremony of affiancing the Princess Margaret in 
January following ; l and at length, on the 7th of August 1503, the Queen, who had attained 
the mature age of fourteen years, made her public entrance into Edinburgh, amid every 
demonstration of national rejoicing. A most minute account of her reception has been 
preserved by John Young, Somerset Herald, her attendant, and an eye-witness of the whole ; 
which exhibits, in an interesting light, the wealth and refinement of the Scottish capital at 
this period. 2 The King met his fair bride at the castle of Dalkeith, where she was hospit- 
ably entertained by the Earl of Morton, and having greeted her with knightly courtesy, 
and passed the day in her company, he returned " to hys bed at Edinborg, varey well 
countent of so fayr meetyng." The Queen was attended on her journey by the Archbishop 
of York, the Bishop of Durham, the Earl of Surrey, and a numerous and noble retinue ; 
and was received, on her near approach to Edinburgh, by the King richly apparelled in 
cloth of gold, the Earl of Bothwell bearing the sword of state before him, and attended by 
the principal nobility of the court. 3 The King, coming down from his own horse, " kyssed 
her in her litre, and mounting on the pallefroy of the Qwene, and the said Qwene behind 
hym, so rode thorow the towne of Edenburgh." On their way, they were entertained with 
an opposite scene of romantic chivalry a knight-errant rescuing his distressed ladye love 
from the hands of her ravisher. The royal party were met at the entry to the town by the 
Grey Friars whose monastery, in the Grassmarket, they had to pass bearing in procession 
their most valued relics, which were presented to the royal pair to kiss ; and thereafter they 
were stayed at an embattled barrier, erected for the occasion, at the windows of which 
appeared " angells syngiug joyously for the comynge of so noble a ladye," while another 
angel presented to her the keys of the city. 

1 Dunbar's Memoirs. D. Laing. 1834. 2 Leland's Collectanea, vol. iv. p S87. 300 8 Ibid, 287. 


Within the gate, the houses were gaily decorated, the 
windows being hung with tapestry, and filled with "lordes, 
ladyes, gentylwomen and gentylmen ; and in the churches 
of the towne, bells rang for myrthe." Here they were 
received by the chapter and prebendaries of St Giles's 
Church in their richest vestments, and bearing the arm of 
their patron saint, which they presented to their Majesties 
to kiss ; while the good city vied with the ecclesiastics in 
testifying their joy by pageants and quaint mysteries, 
suited to the auspicious occasion. Nigh to the cross, at 
which a fountain flowed with wine, whereof all might drink, 1 they were received by Paris 
and the rival goddesses, " with Mercure that gaffe him the apylle of gold for to gyffe to 
the most fayre of the thre." Further on was the salutation of the Angel Gabriel to the 
Virgin ; while on another gate, probably the Netherbow, appeared the four virtues Justice, 
treading Nero under her feet ; Force, bearing a pillar, and beneath her Holofernes, all 
armed ; Temperance, holding a horse's bit, and treading on Epicurus , and Prudence, 
triumphing over Sardanapalus ! while the tabrets played merrily as the royal procession 
passed through, and so proceeded to the Abbey. There they were received by the Arch- 
bishop of St Andrews, accompanied by a numerous retinue of bishops, abbots, and other 
ecclesiastics, in their official robes, and conducted to the high altar, at which they 
knelt, while the " Te Dcum " was sung, and then passed through the cloisters into the 

In the great chamber (the hangings of which represented the history of Troy, and the 
windows filled with the arms of Scotland and England, and other heraldic devices, in 
coloured glass), were many ladies of great name and nobly arrayed ; and the King letting 
go the Queen, till she had kissed all the ladies, the Bishop of Moray acted as Master of 
the Ceremonies, naming each as she saluted her : " After she had kyssed them all, the 
Kyng kyssed her for her labour, and so took her again with low cortesay and bare lied, 
and brought hyr to hyr chammer, and kyssed her agayn, and so took his leve right 
humble ! " 

" The eighth day of the said month, every man apointed himself richly for the marriage, 
the ladies nobly aparelled, some in gowns of cloth of gold, others of crimson, velvet, and 
black ; others of satin, tynsell, and damask, and of chamlet of many colours ; hoods, 

chains, and collars upon their necks The Kyng sat in a chayre of cramsyn 

velvet, the pannells of that sam gylte, under hys cloth of astat of blew velvet fygured of 
gold; " with the Archbishop of York at his right hand, and the Earl of Surrey on his 
left ; while the Scottish bishops and nobles led the Queen from her chamber, " crowned 
with a varey ryche crowne of gold, garnished with pierry and perles, to the high altar, 
where the marriage was solemnised by the Archbishop of Glasgow, amid the sound of 
trumpets and the acclamation of the noble company." At the dinner which followed, the 
Queen was served at the first course with " a wyld borres hed gylt, within a fayr platter," 
followed by sundry other equally queenly dishes. The chamber was adorned with hang- 

1 Leland's Collectanea, vol. iv. p. 289. 
VIGNETTE Ancient iiadlock. dug up in Greyfriars' Churchyard, 1841. 


ings of red and blue, with a canopy of state, of cloth of gold. " Ther wer also in the sam 
chammer a rich bed of astat, and the Lord Gray served the King with water for to wash, 
and the Earle of Huntley berred the towalle ! " The commons testified their sympathy 
by bonfires and other tokens of public rejoicing, while dancing, music, and feasting, witli 
coursing, joustings, and the like pastimes of the age, were continued thereafter during 
many days, " and that done, every man went his way," the Earl of Surrey, with the chivalry 
of England, to bide their second meeting on the field of Flodden. 

This propitious alliance which, notwithstanding the disastrous period that intervened, 
ultimately led to the permanent union of the two kingdoms was celebrated by Dunbar in 
his beautiful allegory of " The Thrissil and the Hois," a poem, notwithstanding its obso- 
lete language, scarcely surpassed in beauty by anything written since. " At this time," 
says its excellent biographer, " Dunbar appears to have lived on terms of great familia- 
rity with the King, and to have participated freely in all the gaieties and amusements of 
the Scottish Court ; his sole occupation being that of writing ballads on any passing 
event, and thus contributing to the entertainment of his royal master. 1 From several of 
his writings, as well as from " The Flyting " with his poetic rival Walter Kennedy, many 
curious local allusions may be gleaned. One satirical poem, an " Address to the Merchants 
of Edinburgh," is particularly interesting for our present object, conveying a most graphic, 
though somewhat highly-coloured picture of the Scottish capital at this period. 2 " The 
principal streets crowded with stalls the confused state of the different markets the 
noise and cries of the fishwomen, and of other persons retailing their wares round the 
cross the booths of traders crowded together ' like a honeycomb,' near the church of St 
Giles, which was then, and continued till within a very recent period, to be disfigured 
with mean and paltry buildings, stuck round the buttresses of the church the outer stairs 
of the houses projecting into the street the swarm of beggars the common minstrels, 
whose skill was confined to one or two hackneyed tunes all together form the subject 
of a highly graphic and interesting delineation." ' 


Quhy will ye, Merchants of renoun, 
Let Edinburgh, your noble toun, 
For lak of reformation 
The common profit tyne and fame I 

Think ye nocht schame, 
That ony other region 
Sail with dishonour hurt your name! 

May nane pass throw your principal gates, 
For stink of haddocks and of scates ; 
For cries of carlings and debates ; 
For sensutn flyttings of defame : 

Tliink ye nocht echame, 
Before strangers of all estates 
That sic dishonour hurt your name ! 

1 Dunbar, by D. Laing, 1834, vol. i. p. 23. 2 Ibid, p. 32. 


Your stinkand scule 1 that stundis dirk, 
Holds the light from your Parroche Kirk ; 
Your forestairs makis your houses mirk, 
Lyk nae country but here at hame : 

Think ye nocht schame, 
Sae little polieie to work 
In hurt and sclander of your name ! 

At your high Cross, quhair gold and silk 
Sould be, thair is but curds and milk ; 
And at your Trone but cokill and wilk, 
Panaches, pudings of Jok and Jame : 

Think ye nocht schame, 
Sen as the world sayis that ilk 
In hurt and sclander of your name ! 

Your common Menstrals have no tone, 
But, Now the day dawis, and Into June 
Cuninger men maun serve Sanct Cloun, 
And never to other craftis clame : 

Think ye nocht schame, 
To hold sic mowes on the moon, 
In hurt and sclander of your name ! 

Tailors, Soutters, and craftis vyll, 
The fairest of your streets do fyll ; 
And merchandis at the Stinkand Styll 
Are hampert in ane hony came : 

Think ye nocht schame, 
That ye have neither witt nor wyle 
To win yourself ane better name ! 

Your Burgh of beggars is ane nest, 
To shout thai swenyours will nocht rest ; 
All honest folk they do molest, 
Sa piteouslie they cry and rame : 

Think ye nocht schame, 
That for the poor lies no thing drest, 
In hurt and sclander of your name ! 

Your proffeit daily does iucreas, 
Your godlie workis less and less ; 
Through streittis nane may mak progress, 
For cry of cruikit, blind, and lame : 

Think ye nocht schame, 
That ye sic substance do possess, 
And will nocht win aue better name ! 

In Gawin Douglas's Prologue to the Eighth Book of the yEneid, there is another 
admirable satire on the manners of the times, but the allusions are mostly more general 
in their application. Again, in Dunbar's " Tydingis fra the Sessioun," where a country 
man tells his neighbour, " I come of Edinburgh fra the sessioun," the picture is equally 
lively and pungent. In his " Remonstrance to the King," there occurs an inventory of 

1 Probably stile; a passage which led through the Luckenbooths, to St Giles's Church, directly opposite the Advocates' 
Close, continued to be known by this name till the whole was removed ill 1811. 


the various royal servitors, affording a curious insight into the crafts of the period. A 
brief extract will suffice : 

Cunyouris, carvouris, and Carpentaria, 
Beildaris of barkis, and ballingaris ; 
Masounis, lyand upon the land, 
And schip wrichtis hewand upone the strand ; 
Glasing wrichtis, goldsmythis, and lapidaris, 
Pryntouris, payntouris, and potingaris ; &c. 

The introduction of printers in the list, shows the progress literature was making at this 
time; as early as 1490, the Parliament enjoined the education of the eldest sons of all 
barons and freeholders, in the Latin language, as well as in science and jurisprudeuce ; 
but it was not till 1507 that the art of printing was introduced into Scotland, under the 
royal auspices, when a patent was granted to Walter Chepman and Andrew Myllar, con- 
ferring on them the exclusive privilege of printing there. Some of Dunbar's own poems 
seem to have been among the very first productions that issued from their press, and form 
now very scarce and highly valued reliques of the art. It affords evidence of the success 
that attended the printing press, immediately on its introduction, that, in the year 1513, 
Walter Chepman founded a Chaplainry at the altar of St John the Evangelist, on the 
southern side of St Giles's Church, and endowed it with an annuity of twenty-three 
marks. 1 But, perhaps, the most lively characteristics of the times, occur in " The 
Flytings " of Kennedy and Dunbar, already referred to, a most singular feature of the 
age, afterwards copied by their successors, in which many local and personal allusions 
are to be found. These poems consist of a series of pungent satires, wherein each depicts 
his rival in the most ridiculous characters, and often in the coarsest language. 

This literary gladiatorship originated in no personal enmity, but seems to have been a 
friendly trial of wits for the amusement of the court. A few extracts, in connection with 
our local history, will suffice, as specimens of these most singular literary effusions. Dim- 
bar addresses Kennedy, 2 

Thou brings the Carrick clay to Edinburgh Cross, 

Upon thy buitings hobblaud hard as horn, 

Strae wisps hing out quhair that the wats ar worn ; 
Come thou again to skar us with thy straes, 

We sail gar skale our Schulis all thee to scorn, 
And stane thee up the calsay as thou gaea. 

The boys of Edinburgh, as the bees out thraws, 

And crys out ay, Heir cums our awin queer Clerk 1 
Then fteis thou like a houlat chalet with craws, 

Quhyle all the bitches at thy buitings bark, 

Then carlings cry, Keip curches in the merk, 
Our gallowa gapes, lo ! quhair ane graceless gaes : 

Anither says, I see him want a sark, 
I red ye, Kimmer, tak in your lining claia. 

1 Maitland, p. 271. 

2 These extracts from " The Flyting" are taken, with a few verbal exceptions, from Ramsay's Evergreen, as being 
more easily understood by the general reader, than the pure version of Mr Laing. 


Then rius thou down the gate with gild of boys, 

And all the town-tykes hingand at thy heels 
Of lads and louns, ther ryses sic a noise, 

Quhyle runsys rin away with cairt and wheels, 

And cadger's avers, cast baith coals and creils, 
For rerd of thee, and rattling of thy butes. 

Fish wyves cry, Fy, and cast down skulls and skeils, 
Some clashes thee, some clods thee on the cutes. 

An allusion of the same nature as the concluding lines, to the fraternity of fishwives, 
occurs in the " Devil's Inquest," by the same author, and would seem to afford historical 
evidence that the ancient characteristics of that hardy race are still ahly represented in 
their descendants. 

Kennedy replies in equally caustic terms, ransacking history for delinquencies of the 
Dunbars, with which to brand their namesake, and thus advises him : 

Pass to my Commissar and be confest, 

Before him cour on knees, and cum in will ; 
And syne gar Stobo for thy life protest ; 

Renunce thy rymes, baith ban and burn thy bill, 

Heive to the Heaven thy hands and hald thee still. 
Do thou not thus, Brigane, thou sail be brint, 
With pik, tar, fyre, gun-powder, and lint, 

On Arthur-sate, or on ane higher hill ! 

It may surprise us that this poetic warfare, though begun in play, did not end in earnest 
feud, from the zeal with which it is conducted ; yet they seemed to have remained to the 
last good friends ; and in the " Lament for the Makaris," Duubar bewails the approaching 
death of his rival, as a friend and brother. 

But we must hasten from these merry pastimes of the court, that open on us like a 
glimpse of some lively comedy enacted to sweet music of the olden time, delaying us too 
long by its quaint pleasantries, and pass on to the more stirring events of the time, 
that ended in " Flodden's bloody rout." The leading historical incidents that preceded 
this disastrous field belong not to our subject, even if they were less familiar than they are 
to the general reader. But among those that possess a local interest, may be mentioned 
the General Synod of the Clergy, which assembled, by permission of the King, in the 
Blackfriars, 1 at Edinburgh, where, in presence of the Pope's nuncio, Bagimont's roll was 
revised, and all benefices above forty pounds sterling yearly value, held bound to pay a 
certain sum to the Pope ; the King, however, reserving to himself the right of making 
still larger demands when needed. 2 

The Queen had already given birth to two sons at Holyrood Palace, both of whom died 
in infancy; and in 1512, her third son, who speedily succeeded to the throne as James V., 
was born at Linlithgow ; when the King, seduced by the romantic challenge of the Queen 
of France, " To ride, for her sake, three feet on English ground," forgot his fair young 
Queen and infant son, and in defiance of every argument and artifice that his nobles could 
adopt to win him from his purpose, flung away the fruits of a prosperous reign in one un- 
equal contest. Lindsay of Pitscottie's account of the warnings that preceded the departure 

1 A.D. 1511. ! Martial Achievements, vol. ii. p. 529. 


of the Scottish army from the capital, though familiar to many, are too intimately associated 
with our local history to he omitted here. The King had already been warned against the 
war, by an apparition of St John, at Linlithgow ; " yet this but hasted him fast to Edin- 
burgh, to make him ready, and to make provision for himself and his army against the day 
appointed. That is, he had seven great cannons out of the Castle of Edinburgh, called 
the Seven Sisters, casten by Robert Borthwik, the master-gunner ; furnished with powder 
and lead to them at their pleasure; and in the meantime, they were taking out the artillery, 
the King himself being in the Abbey, there was a cry heard at the Market-cross of Edin- 
burgh, about midnight, proclaiming, as it had been, a summons, which was called by the 
proclaimer thereof the summon of Plotcok, 1 desiring all earls, lords, barons, gentlemen, 
and sundry burgesses within the town, to compear before his master within forty days ; and 
so many as were called, were designed by their own names. But whether this summons 
was proclaimed by vain persons, night walkers, for their pastime, or if it was a spirit, I 
cannot tell. But an indweller in the town, called Mr Richard Lawsoun, being evil dis- 
posed, ganging in his gallery-stair, foment the Cross, hearing this voice, thought marvel 
what it should be : So he cried for his servant to bring him his purse, and took a crown 
and cast it over the stair, saying, ' I, for my part, appeal from your summons and judg- 
ment, and take me to the mercy of God.' Verily, he who caused me chronicle this, was 
a sufficient lauded gentleman, who was in the town in the meantime, and was then twenty 
years of age ; and he swore after the field there was not a man that was called at that time 
that escaped, except that one man, that appealed from their judgment." 2 But neither this, 
nor the entreaties of his Queen, who urged that " she had but one son to him, quilk was 
over weak ane warrand to the realme of Scotland ! " could turn back the King from his 
rash purpose. In defiance, as it seemed, alike of earth and heaven, the gallant, but head- 
strong and devoted Monarch led forth the flower of Scottish chivalry to perish with him on 
the bloody field of Flodden. The body of the King having fallen, as is understood, into 
the hands of the victors, he was believed by many to have gone on his intended pilgrimage 
to the Holy Land ; and popular tradition continued long after to regard him as another 
King Arthur, or Sebastian, who was yet to return in the hour of danger, and right the 
nation's wrongs. 

We shall close this chapter with a curious, and we believe unique fragment of a ballad, 
embodying this tradition, with other more local and apposite allusions. 

An about the mids o' the night 
He crap to the field o' the bluid ; 
Laigh he bowit an dour he lookit, 
But never a worde he spak. 3 

He turned the dead knight round about, 
Till the moon shon on his bree ; 
But his soth was tined wit a bluidy gash, 
Drumbelee grew his ee. 

1>luto - 2 Pitscottie, vol. i. p. 266. > Probably should be "said." 


Up and awa my lither foot page, 

An Scotland and I maun part ; 

But sweere by the deed iu ilk bluidy shrowd, 

That thou layn my lare i" thy hart. 

Giffe I were a King, as now I 'm uane, 
Ille battell wold I prove, 
My birde ladie in Halyroode ; 
\Vae worth the wyt o' luve. 

Sanct Giles sail ring ilk larum belle, 

Wauk up the craimes and bowse. 

Earl Angus has taen hirne to Floudenne 

* * 

He cut the crosse on his right shoulder 
0' claith o' the bluidy redde, 
An hes taen his ways to the haly land 
Wheras Christe was quick and dead. 1 



1 This curious fragment was found by the author in an interleaved copy of "Dalrymple's remarks on the History of 
Scotland." Two leaves have been torn out, so that these are only the concluding stanzas. The following note is 
appended in the same hand : " This I got from an old man, James Spence, gardener at Earlsha' ; it had been on the 
fly leaf of a Psalm-book iu the family as long as he remembered." 

CITY Cuoss. 


BjHE ready voice of rumour preceded the more certain 
Knews of the disastrous field of Flodden, and filled the 
Scottish capital with dismay ; already sufficiently over- 
i cast by the prevalence of the plague, which continued 
to haunt the city during this eventful year. The pro- 
vost and magistrates had marched at the head of their 
trusty burghers to the field, and were involved in the 
general misfortune ; but fortunately for the country, the 
wisest precautions had been adopted to provide for such 
a contingency. The provost and bailies "in respect that they were to pass to the army, 
chose and left behind thame George of Touris, president, for the provost, and four others 
for the bailies, till have full jurisdictioun in thair absence." l 

The battle of Flodden was fought on the 9th of September 1513, and on the following 

1 Registers of the City Lord Hailes' Remarks. 
VIGNETTE James V.'s Tower, Holyrood, previous to 1554. 

[Note] The following ballad, the scene of which is laid in St Giles's Church, may find a place here, both from its 
local allusions, and its general reference to the subject of the text : 

Wae worth the day our burghers leal 

Rade our the Ynglish yird ; 
Wae worth the day whan leman's guile, 
To bluidy grave fand wit to wyle 

Our gallant James the Feird. 

Gawn Douglas rase frae a dead-troth sleep, 

Teenefu' wi' erie dreams ; 
Queen Margaret in Halyrood waukt to weep 
Sin' their maister a ieman's tryst will keep 

Ayout Tweed's border streams. 



day, with the first rumours of the disaster, these magistrates issued a proclamation, 
couched in plain and simple terms, yet exhibiting such firmness as showed them well 
fitted for the trying occasion. It begins, "For sa meikle as thair is ane greit rumber 1 
now laitlie rysin within this toun, tueching our Soverane Lord and his army, of the 
quilk we understand thair is cumin na veritie as yet, quhairfore we charge straigtlie, and 
commandis that all maner of personis, nyhbours within the samen, have reddy their 
fensible geir and wapponis for weir, and compeir thairwith to the said president's, at 
jewing of the commoun bell, for the keeping and defens of the toun against thame that 
wald invade the samyn." ; It likewise warns women not to be seen on the street, 
clamouring and crying, but rather to repair to the church, and offer up prayers for the 
national welfare. 

All the inhabitants, capable of bearing arms, were thus required to be in readiness ; 
twenty-four men (the origin of the old town-guard), were appointed as a standing watch ; 
and 500 Scots were forthwith ordered to be levied for purchasing artillery and fortifying 
the town. 

We have already described the line of the first circumvallations of the city, erected in 
the reign of James II. ; but its narrow limits had speedily proved too confined for the 
rising capital, and now with the dread of invasion by a victorious enemy in view, the 
inhabitants of the new and fashionable suburb of the Cowgate became keenly alive to 
their exposed position beyond the protecting shelter of the city wall. 

The necessity of enclosing it seems to have come upon the citizens in the most un- 

it is na ae day, but ouly ten, 

Sin' Sanct Giles his quire had rung 
Wi" the high mass an' the haly sign, 
An* the aisles wi' the tramp o' stalwart men 
That the Nunc Demittis suug. 

But only ten sin' prince and squire, 

An' churl, an' burger bauld, 
In mauger o' hell's or heaven's forbear, 
Had bight to ride, wi' helm an' spear, 

Three yards on Ynglish mould 

When Douglas sought nigh the noon o' night 

The altar o' gude Sanct Giles, 
Up the haly quire, whar the glimmerand light 
0' the Virgin's lamp gae the darkness sight 

To fill the eerie aisles. 

Belyve, as the boom o' the mid-mirk hour, 

Itang out wi' clang an' mane ; 
Clang after clang frae Sanct Giles's tower, 
Whar the fretted ribs like a boortree bower 

Mak a royal crown o' stane 

Or the sound was tint 'fore mortal ee 

Ne'er saw sic sight, I trow, 
Shimmering wi' light ilk canopy, 
Pillar an' ribbed arch, an' fretted key, 

Wi' a wild uneardly low. 

An' Douglas was ware that the haly pile 
Wi' a strange kent thrang was filled, - 
Yearls Angus an' Crawford, an' bauld Argyle, 
Huntly an' Lennox, an' Home the while, 
Wi' mony ma' noble styled. 

An' priests stood up in cope and stole, 

In mitre an* abbot's weede, 
An" James y'wis abon the whole, 
Led up the kirk to win assoyl 

Whar the eldritch mass was said. 

Let the mass be sung for the unshriven dead ! 
Let the dead's mass bide their ban ! 

An' grim an' stalwart, in mouldy weed, 

Priest after priest, up the altar lead, 
King James his forbear wan. 

Let the dead's mass sing ! said Inchaffrey's priest- 
Dead threap na to the dead ; 
Now peace to them wha tak' their rest, 
A' smoured in bluid on Floddeu's breast ! 
Crist's peace ! Priest Douglas cried. 

Gane was the thrang frae the glymerand aisle, 

As he groped to the kirk yard boun' ; 
But or the mornin' sun 'gan smile, 
"i'was kent that a woman was Scotland's mail, 
A wean wore Scotland's crown. 

1 Ilumour. 

* Lord Hailes' Remarks, p. 147. 


expected manner ; they no doubt regretted that luxury ami tuste for improvement had led 
them so far out into the unprotected country. But they certainly did afterwards retrieve 
their native character of prudence, as scarcely a house arose beyond the second wall for 
two hundred and fifty years ; and if Edinburgh increased in any respect, it was only by 
piling new flats on the Ancient Royalty, and adding to the height rather than to the 
extent of the city. 1 

The utmost energy was immediately displayed in supplying the needful defences ; the 
farmers of the Lothians lent their labourers and horses to the national work ; the citizens 
rivalled one another in their zeal for the fortification of the capital against the dreaded 
foe, " our auld inymis of Ingland." 2 So that, in an incredibly short time, the extended 
city was enclosed within defensive walls, with ports, and battlements, and towers, an 
effective protection against the military engineering of the age. 

Considerable portions of this wall have remained to the present time, exhibiting abun- 
dant tokens of the haste with which it was erected, as well as preserving, in the name of 
the Flodden wall, by which it is still known, another proof of the deep impression that 
disastrous field had left on the popular mind. 

Fortunately for Scotland, Henry VIII. was too deeply engrossed with the French war 
to follow up the advantage he had gained ; and Queen Margaret, who now assumed the 
government in name of her infant son, having appealed to his generosity, towards a sister 
and nephew, he willingly secured the neutrality of the Scots by a peace. Shortly after 
this truce, a legate arrived at Edinburgh from the Pope, bearing his congratulations to the 
young King on his accession to the crown, 3 and presented him with a consecrated cap 
and sword from 'his Holiness the latter of which is still preserved among the Eegalia 
in Edinburgh Castle. 

[1515.] The nation now experienced all the evils of a long minority; the Queen 
having speedily accepted Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus, in marriage, was thereby 
held to have forfeited the Regency ; and from this time, till the young King 
asserted his independence, the people knew scarcely any other rule than the anarchy 
of rival factions contending for power, in all which the capital had always a principal 

The Earl of Arran, upon the marriage of the Queen, marched to Edinburgh, numerously 
attended by his kinsmen and friends, and laid claim to the Regency, as the nearest of 
blood to the King. The Earl of Angus immediately followed him thither, attended by 
above 500 armed retainers, ready to assert his claims against every opponent. So soon as 
Arran, who, " with the chief of the nobility of the west, had assembled at the Archbishop 
of Glasgow's house, in the foot of Blackfrier Wynd," 4 had learned of his arrival, he ordered 
the gates to be secured, little aware of the formidable host he was thus enclosing within the 
walls. On the following morning, Angus received early intimation of the rash scheme of 
his rival, for making him prisoner, and lost no time in mustering his followers, whom he 
drew up, well armed and in battle array, above the Nether Bow, and thereupon a fierce and 
sanguinary conflict ensued between them, which was not stayed till Sir Patrick Hamilton, 
Montgomery, and above seventy men had fallen in the aflray. Though the Regent pub- 

1 Chambers's Traditions, vol. i. p. 3. 2 Diurnal of Occurrents. 

a Balfour's Ann. vol. i. p. 239. 4 Crawford's Lives, vol. i. p. 69. 


lishecl an edict prohibiting any of the name of Douglas or Hamilton to interfere in the 
election of provost, the Earl of Arran, who had held that high office during the previous 
year, 1519, attempted to control the citizens in their free choice. They immediately shut 
their gates upon him, and a scuffle ensued, iu which one of the deacons of the crafts was 
slain. A fierce and sanguinary tumult followed this, in consequence of the attempt of 
Arran and the nobles of the west to surprise the Earl of Angus ; in which Gawin 
Douglas, the Bishop of Dunkeld, tried in vain to act as mediator. The following is the 
graphic account which Drummond furnishes of this famous contest : Angus with an 
hundred resolute followers, armed with long spears and pikes, which the citizens, as he 
traversed the streets, furnished them from their windows, " invested a part of the town, 
and barricado'd some lanes with carts and other impediments, which the time did afford. 
The adverse party, trusting to their number, and the supply of the citizens (who, calling 
to mind the slaughter of their deacon, showed them small favour), disdaining the Earl 
should thus muster on the streets, in great fury invade him. Whilst the bickering con- 
tinued, and the town is in a tumult, William Douglas, brother to the Earl of Angus, Sir 
David Hume of Wedderburn, George Hume, brother to the late Lord, with many others 
by blood and friendship tyed together, enter by violence the east gate of the town, force 
their passage through the throngs, seek the Earl's enemies, find them, and scour the 
streets of them. The Master of Montgomery, eldest son to the Earl of Eglinton, Sir 
Patrick Hamilton, brother to the Earl of Arran, with almost fourscore more, are left 
dead upon the place. The Earl himself findeth an escape and place of retreat through a 
marsh upon the north side of the town ; the Chancellor and his retinue took sanctuary in 
the Dominican Friars. Some days after, the Humes, well banded and backed with many 
nobles and gentlemen of their lineage, took the Lord Hume's and his brother's heads 
from the place where they had been fixed, and with the funeral rites of those times 
interred them in the Black- Friars." l James Beatoun, Archbishop of Glasgow and Chan- 
cellor of the kingdom, who was a zealous adherent of Arran, and had taken an active 
share both in planning and executing the scheme, on the discomfiture of his party " fled 
to the Black Freir Kirk, and thair was takin out behind the alter, and his rockit riviu aff 
him, and had beine slaine, had not beine Mr Gawin Douglas requeisted for him, saying, 
it was shame to put hand on ane consecrat bischop." 

It was at the commencement of this aifray, which took place on the 30th April 1520, 
and is known by the name of Cleanse the Causey, from the scene of contest, that the 
well-known repartee of Gawin Douglas to the Archbishop of Glasgow occurred. Douglas, 
who was uncle to the Earl of Angus, and now Bishop of Dunkeld, having appealed to the 
Archbishop to use his influence with his friends to compromise matters, and prevent, if 
possible, the bloodshed that must otherwise ensue ; the Archbishop excused himself, on 
many accounts, adding, "Upon my conscience, I cannot help it;" at the same time, 
striking his breast in the heat of his asseveration, he betrayed the presence of a concealed 
coat of mail, whereupon Douglas retorted, " How now, my lord, methinks your conscience 
clatters." 3 

1 Hawthornden, p. 88. 2 Pitscottie, vol. ii. p. 288. 

1 Crawford's Lives, vol. i. p. 62. The term clatters is peculiarly expressive here, as it signifies either males a 
noise, or tattles, and may be rendered thus : Methinks your conscience tells another tale I 


The streets of Edinburgh continued to partake largely of the general misrule that 
prevailed throughout the kingdom during the long minority of James V. The Lord Home 
had convened a council of the nobility so early as 1515, to devise some remedy for the 
anarchy that existed, and at his urgent suggestion, John Duke of Albany was invited 
from France to assume the reins of government. On his arrival the same year, "he 
wes ressaueit with greit honour, and convoyit to Edinburgh with ane greit cumpany, with 
greit blythnes and glore, and thair wes constitute and maid governour of this realme ; 
and sone thairefter held ane Parliament, and ressaueit the homage of the lordis and thre 
estaittis ; quhair thair wes mony thingis done for the weill of this cuntrey. Evill doaris 
wes punuesit ; amang the quhilkis ane Petir Moifet, ane greit rever and theif, was heidit, 
and for exampill of vtheris, his head wes put on the West Port of Edinburgh." The 
Duke took up his residence at Holyrood, and seems to have immediately proceeded with 
the enlargement of the Palace, in continuation of the works which the late King had 
carried on till near the close of his life. Numerous entries in the Treasurer's accounts, 
for the year 1515-16, furnish evidence of the building being then in progress. 

The new governor, after having made a tour of the kingdom and adopted many stringent 
measures for strengthening his party, returned to Edinburgh, and summoned a convention 
of the nobility to meet him in the Abbey of Holyrood. But already the Lord Chamber- 
lain had fallen out of favour, and " Prior John Hepburn of St Andrews clamb next the 
Governor, and grew great in the Court, and remembered of old malice and envy betwixt 
him and the Humes." 5 Lord Home, who had been the sole means of the Duke of Albany's 
elevation to the regency, was suddenly arrested by his orders, along with his brother 
William. An old annalist states, that " the Ducke of Albany tooke the Lord Houme, 
the chamberlane, and wardit him in the auld touer of Holyrudhouss, which was foundit by 
the said Ducke," 8 an allusion confirming the previous account of the new works in pro- 
gress at the palace. A series of charges were preferred against the brothers, of which the 
most remarkable is the accusation by the Earl of Murray, the natural son of the late King, 
that the Lord Chamberlain had caused the death of his father, " who, by many witnesses, 
was proved to be alive, and seen to have come from the battle of Flowden." * They were 
both condemned to be beheaded, and the sentence immediately thereafter put in execution, 
" and their heads fixt on the Tolbooth of Edinburgh," 5 from whence, as we have seen, 
they were removed by their faithful adherents, and laid in consecrated ground. 

Throughout the minority of James V. the capital continued to be disturbed by succes- 
sive outbreaks of turbulence and riot, from the contentions of the nobility and their 
adherents, and especially from the struggles of the rival Earls of Angus and Arran. In 
order to suppress this turbulent spirit, the Town Council augmented the salary of the 
provost, and appointed four attendants armed with halberts, as a perpetual guard to wait 
upon him, but altogether without effect on the restless spirit of the nobles. 

During nearly the whole of this time the young monarch resided in the Castle of 
Edinburgh, pursuing his education under the tuition of Gawin Dunbar, afterwards Arch- 
bishop of Glasgow ; and his sports, with the aid of his faithful page, Sir David Lindsay ; 

1 Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 5. s Marjoribank's Aunals, Liber Cart. p. Ixxi. 

s Pitscottie, vol. ii. p. 296. 4 Hawthornden, p. 85. 

5 Crawford's Lives, vol. i. p. 324. Balfour's Ann. vol. i. p. 245. 


unconscious of the tumultuous scenes of the neighbouring capital, and seemingly but little 
thought of by its turbulent rivals, for his poor tutor was compelled to defray, from his 
own purse, the necessary repairs of the royal apartments, then devoted to his use ; while 
such was the straitened means of the young King, that he was indebted at one time to 
the kindness of his natural sister, the Countess of Morton, for a new doublet and a pair 
of hose. Sir David Lindsay has furnished, in his Complaynt, a lively description of their 
pastimes at this period 

How as ane chapman beris his pack, 

I bure thy Grace upon my back : 

And sumtymes, stridlingis, on my uek, 

Dansand with mony bend and bek : 

The first sillabis that thow did mute, 

Was pa, da, lyn, upon the lute ; 

Than playit I twentie springis perqueir, 

Quhilk was greit plesour for to heir : 

Fra play, thow leit me never rest, 

Bot gynkertoun thow luffit ay best ; 

And ay, quhen thow come fra the scule, 

Then I behuffit to play the fule 

Thow hes maid lordis, schir, be Sanct Geill 

Of sum that hes nocht servit so weill. 1 

Though placed within the Castle for safety, the King was not entirely confined to its 
straitened bounds ; when not prevented by the disturbed state of the town and neighbour- 
hood, he was not only permitted to ride forth in the intervals of his studies, but occasion- 
ally took up his residence both at Craigmillar and Dalkeith. 

Shortly after the period referred to, the Duke of Albany quitted the kingdom for the 
last time, and the King, who had been removed to Stirling, to be out of reach of the 
Queen's party, was brought to Holyrood, attended by a numerous train of nobles, and at 
the mature age of twelve invested with the full powers of royalty, as the only means of 
terminating the frightful anarchy that prevailed; and on the 22d of August 1524, "he 
maid his solempnit entree with the lordis in the tolbuytht of Edinbrughe, with sceptour, 
crouue, and sword of honour." 

Sir David Lindsay alludes to this in his Complaynt, and pictures with lively satire the 
obsequious courtiers joining in the diversions of the juvenile King. 

Pitscottie tells with great naivete, that " the King and the lordis remained in Edin- 
burgh aud Hallirudhouse the space of ane yeir, with great triumph and merrines, quhil 

Imprudently, lyke witles fulis, 

Thay tuke the young Prince fra the sculiB, 

Quhare he, under obedience, 

Was leirnand vertew, and science, 

And haistcly pat in his hand 

The governance of all Scotland. 

* * * 

Schir, sum wald say, your Majestie 

Sail now gae to your libertie ; 

Ye sail to na man be coarcit, 

Nor to the scule na mair subjectifc ; 

We think thame varrey naturall fulis, 

That lernis over meikle at the sunlis : 

1 Sir D. Lindsay's Poems, 1806, vol. i. p. 257. = Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 9. 


* * * * 

Ilk man efter thair qualitie, 
Thay did solist hie Majesti, 
Sum gart him ravell at the rakket, 
Some harlit him to the hurly hakket. 
And sum to schaw their courtlie corsis, 
Wald ryid to Leith, and rin thair horsis. 

at the last thair vaiked ane benefice quhilk pat thame all at variance for the dispositioun 
of the same." l And so, after dividing with more or less success the patronage of the 
crown, the nobles parted in greater disagreement than ever ; " bot Bischope James 
Beatoun remained still in Edinburgh, in his awin ludging, quhilk he biggit in the Frieris 
Wynd." 2 

[1525.] The nominal rule of the youthful Sovereign proved of little avail to stay the 
turbulence of his haughty nobles ; Angus again seized the government, nominating his 
uncle, Archibald Douglas, Provost of Edinburgh. And such was the power he possessed, 
that, under his protection, the assassins of M'Lellan of Bombie, who was slain in open 
day at the door of St Giles's Church, walked with impunity about the streets ; while the 
Queen herself deemed his safe conduct necessary, while she resided in Edinburgh, though 
the Parliament was sitting there at the time. And so the King returned again to honour- 
able durance in the dilapidated palace of the Castle ; or only made his appearance to act 
as the puppet of his governor. 

At this time it was that Arran and his faction demanded that the Parliament should 
assemble within the Castle, to secure them against popular coercion ; but Angus, and 
a numerous body of the nobles, and others, protested " that the Parliament be kept 
in the accustomed place, and that the King be conveyed along the High Street, and 
in triumph shown to his own people." And this being denied them, they surrounded the 
Castle with two thousand men in arms, completely preventing the supplies of the garrison. 
Those in the Castle retaliated, by firing on the town : but their differences were happily 
accommodated, and " the King in magnificence and pomp is convoyed from the Castle to 
his palace at Holyrood House, and the Estates assemble in the wonted place of the town 
of Edinburgh." 3 

[1526.] The Earl of Lennox assembled a numerous body of adherents in the following 
year, and marched towards Edinburgh to the rescue of the King ; but Angus not only 
caused the provost to ring the alarum bell, and raise the town in his defence, but he per- 
suaded the King, though much against his will, to head the burgher force against his own 
friends. " Then the King caused sound his trumpets, and lap upon horse, and caused 
ring the commoun bell of Edinburgh, commanding all manner of men to follow him ; so he 
issued forth at the Wast Port, and the tounes of Edinburgh and Leith with him, to the 
number of thrie thousand men, and passed forwards with thame," but only to arrive 
in time to witness the death of the Earl of Lennox, and the complete discomfiture of his 

[1528.] Frequent attempts were made thereafter for the King's delivery from this thral- 
dom ; but that which so many had failed in securing, he at length effected, by his own 

1 Pitscottie, voL ii. p. 312. 2 Ibid, p. 313. 3 Hawthornden, p. 93. 


address and vigour, and with only two attendants, made his escape from the Douglas faction, 
at Falkland, to Stirling Castle. Shortly after this, he repaired to Edinburgh, whither he 
summoned his barons to advise with him, and, with a degree of decision far beyond his 
years, proceeded to assert his own independence and authority. One of the acts of this 
Parliament against them, " quha cummis and burnis folkes in their housis," 1 exhibits in no 
very pleasing light the rude violence prevailing at the period. 

The year 1530 is assigned as the date of Lindsay's famous satire, The Complaint of 
the Papingo, 2 which may be regarded as the first note of the reforming movement by him, 
of whom Pinkerton has said, " In fact, Sir David was more the reformer of Scotland than 
John Knox ; for he had prepared the ground, and John only sowed the seed." The fare- 
well of the papingo to the capital is couched in terms the more flattering, as coming 
from so keen a satirist, 

"Adevv Edinburgh, thou heich triumphand toun, 
Within quhose boundis, richt blythful have I bene, 
Of trew merchandis, the rute of this regioim, 
Moat reddy to ressave Court, King, and Quene; 
Thy policie, and justice, may be sene, 
Were devotioun, wysedom, and honestie, 
And credence, tint, they micht be found in thee." 

Various notices occurring about this period, exhibit the first symptoms of the reforming 
doctrines showing themselves in the capital, e.g., in the Diurnal of Occurrents for 1532, 
" In this zeir was ane greit objuratioun of the favouraris of Mertene Lutar, in the Abbay 
of Halyrudhous." 3 About the same period, it records the destruction of nearly the whole 
town by an accidental fire. This same year, the nobles assembled at Edinburgh, at the 
King's summons, with their followers, to the number of twelve thousand, for the famous 
hunting match, in which Johnnie Armstrong, the Border reiver, renowned in song and 
story, was hanged, " to daunton the theives of Tividaill and Annandaill." 4 

Notice has already been taken of Dunbar's allusions to the Court of Session, in the 
former reign, but now, in 1537, the King instituted the College of Justice, and estab- 
lished the Court on a permanent footing, with the confirmation of Pope Clement VII. 5 
This event is one of the most important in the history of Edinburgh, on which, from that 
time, both its prosperity and its metropolitan claims have more depended than on any occur- 
rence in its history ; and which, from the security and the ready means of redress it afforded 
to the inhabitants against the turbulent nobles of the period, made the town a place of 
greater resort than it had ever before been. 

The King now, with that self-reliance and energy that marked his entire character, after 
negotiating for the hand of various noble ladies in marriage, set sail from Leith, accom- 
panied by a large fleet and a numerous retinue; and, arriving at the French Court, he wooed 
and won for himself the Princess Magdalene, eldest daughter of Francis I. On the 29th 
of May the royal pair landed at Leith, amid every display of welcome ; and after tarry- 
ing for a few days at the Palace of Holyrood, till the preparations of the citizens were 
completed, the Queen made her entry in state into the capital, with processions of great 

1 Scots Acts, 12mo, vol. i. p. 201. 2 Parrot. * Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 15. 

4 Pitscottie, vol. ii. p. 342. 5 Hawthornden, p. 99. Scots Acts, 12mo, vol. i. p. 217. 


magnificence, and sucli displays of loyal attachment, as testified the hearty welcome of 
the people. The young Queen was of a most tender and affectionate disposition ; she 

seems to have given 

" Her hand with her heart in it " 

to her royal lover, with a gentle spirit of resignation. So soon as she stepped on the Scottish 
shore, she knelt and kissed the ground, praying for all happiness to her adopted country 
and people ; l but ere six weeks had elapsed, the pomp of worldly honour that had greeted 
her arrival, was called to follow the young bride to the tomb. She was buried with the 
greatest mourning Scotland ever, till that time, was participant of, in the church of Holy- 
rood House, near King James II. 2 Buchanan, who was an eye-witness, says it was the 
first instance of mourning-dresses being worn by the Scots ; and " triumph and mirrines 
was all turned into deregies and soull massis, verrie lamentable to behold." 3 

Sir David Lindsay, in a poem of singular inequality, has expressed his Deploratioun of 
the Deith of Quene Magdalene. He thus apostrophises (Crewell Deith) : 

Theif ! saw thow uoc'it the greit preparatyvis 
Of Edinburgh, the nobill famous toun, 
Thow saw the pepill, lauboring for thair lyvis, 
To mak tryumphe, with trump, and clariouu ; 
Sic plesour was never into this regioun, 
As suld haif bene the day of hir entraoe, 
With greit propy nis, * gevin till hir Grace. 

Thow saw makand right costlie scaffalding, 

Depaintit weill, with gold, and asure fyue, 

Reddye preparit for the upsetting, 

With fontanis, flowing water cleir, and wyne, 

Disagysit folks, 6 lyke creaturis divyne, 

On ilk scaffold, to play ane syndrie atorie, 

Bot, all in greiting turnit thow that glorie. 

Provest, baillies, and lordis of the toun, 

And princis of the preistis venerabill, 

Full plesandlye in thair processioun, 

With all the cunnyng clerkis honorabill ; 

The herauldis, with their awful vestimentis, 

With maseris 6 upon ather of thair handis, 

To rewle the press, with burneist silver wandis. 

Syne, last of all, in ordour tryumphall, 

That maist illuster Princes honorabill, 

With hir the lustye ladyis of Scotland, 

Quhilk sulde haif bene ane sicht maist delectabil : 

Hir rayment to rehers, I am nocht habill, 

Of gold, and perle, and precious stonis brycht, 

Twinklyng lyke sterris in ane frostie nycht. 

Under ane pale of golde scho suld haif past, 
Be burgeis borne, clothit in silkis fyne, 

> Hawthornden, p. 104. Ibid. 3 PiUcottiej vol . u . 

Disguised folk or actors. " JIaoer 


The greit maister of housholde, all thair last, 
With him, in ordour, all the kingis tryne, 
Quhais ordinance war langsum to defyne ; 
On this maner, scho passing throw the toun, 
Suld haif resavit raony benissun. 

Thou sulde haif hard the ornate oratouris, 

Makand her Hynes salutatioun, 

Baith of the clergy, toun, and counsalouris, 

With mony uotabill narratioun, 

Thow sulde haif sene hir Coronatioun, 

In the fair abbay of the Haly Rude, 

In presence of ane myrthfull multitude. 

Sic banketting, sic awfull tournaments, 

On hors, and f ute, that tyme quhilk suld haif bene, 

Sic chapell royall, with sie instruments, 

And craftye musick, singing from the splene, 

In this cuntre was never hard, nor sene : 

Bot, all this greit solempnitie, and gam, 

Turnit thow hes in requiem (eternam. 

James, though without doubt sincerely attached to his Queen, very speedily after his 
bereavement, for reasons of state policy, began to look about him for another to supply her 
place. And while his ambassadors were negotiating his alliance with Mary of Lorraine, 
daughter of the Duke of Guise, the Scottish capital became the scene of tragical events, 
little in harmony with the general character of this gallant Monarch. Groundless charges 
of treason were concocted, seemingly by the malice of private enmity, in consequence of 
which, John, son of Lord Forbes, and chief of his name, was convicted of having conspired 
the King's death. He was beheaded and quartered on the Castle Hill, and his quarters 
exposed on the principal gates of the city. This execution was followed in a few days by 
a still more barbarous deed of like nature. The Lady Glamis, sister of the Earl of Angus, 
convicted, as it would seem, by the perjury of a disappointed suitor, on the charge of a 
design to poison the King, and of the equally hateful crime of being of the blood of the 
Douglasses, was condemned to be burned alive. The sentence was immediately put in 
execution on the Castle Hill, and in sight of her husband, then a prisoner in the Castle, 
who, either in desperation at the cruel deed or in seeking to effect his escape, was killed 
in falling over the Castle rock. 

The horror of such barbarous events is somewhat relieved by an ordeal of a different 
nature, which immediately followed them, and which, as it is related by Drummond, 
seems a grave satire on the knightly prowess of the age. 

" Upon the like suspicion," says he, " Drumlanrig and Hempsfield, ancient barons, 
having challenged others, had leave to try the verity by combat. The lists were designed 
by the King (who was a spectator and umpire of their valour) at the Court of the Palace 
of Holyrood House. They appeared upon the day, armed from head to foot, like ancient 
Paladines, and after many interchanged blows, to the disadvantage of their casks, corslets, 
and vantbraces, when the one was become breathless, by the weight of his arms and 
thunder of blows, and the other, who was short-sighted, had broken his ponderous sword, 
the King, by heraulds, caused separate them, with disadvantage to neither of these 


champions ; and the verity which was (omul, was, that they dared both to light iu close 
arms ! " 

In the month of June ir>;8, the new Queen, Mary of Guise, destined to enact so pro- 
minent ii purl in the future history both of the city and kingdom, was welcomed home 
with costly gifts and every show of welcome, and " on Sanct Margarete's day thairafter, 
sho maid her entres in Edinburgh, with greit trivmphe, and als with ordour of the haill 
nobillis; hir Grace come in first, lit the AYest Port, and raid doun the hie gait to the 
Abhav of Halyrudhous, with greit sportis playit to hir Grace throw all the pairtis of the 
hum." Pitscottie adds, that " the Qucine was riehlio rewairdit and propyned by the pro- 
veist. and tounschip, both with gold and spyees, wynes, and curious playes made to her by 
the said hum;" 8 and, indeed, such was the zeal of the good town to testify its grntulations 
on the King's speedy escape from widowhood, that we find, shortly after, " the city cash 
had run so low, as to render it necessary for the council to mortgage the northern vault of 
the Nether How Port, for the sum of 100 merits Scots, to repair the said port or gate 
withal." From this state of exhaustion, they do not seem to have again recovered during 
the King's lifetime, as in 1541, the year before his death, they had to borrow from him 
100 merits Scots, to put the park walls of Holyrood in repair, a duty that seems to have 
been somewhat unreasonably imposed on the town. 

In the year 15W, Sir David Lindsay's Satyr? <>/ ' tha Thria Estaitis, the earliest Scottish 
drama, if we except the Religious Mysteries, that we have any account of, was represented 
for the first time at Linlithgow, at " the feaste of the epiphane," in presence of the Court. 
At a later date, it was " playit beside Edinburgh, in presence of the Queen Regent, and 
ane greit part of the nobilitie, with ano exceeding greit nowmber of pepill ; lestand fnv 
nyne houris afore none, till six honris at euin," an extent of patience in the listeners that 
implies no slight degree of entertainment. 

The extreme freedom with which tlif Pardoner, and others of the dramatis person, 
treat of the clergy, and the alleged corruptions of the Church, may exeite our surprise that 
this satire should have obtained, thus early, so willing an audience. Dr Irving has inferred 
from this, that the King was better inclined to a reformation than is generally supposed,* 
hnt the more probable explanation is to be sought for in the favour of the author at Court 
Not long after, Killor, a blackfriar, constructing a drama on the Passion of Christ, which 
was performed before the King on Good Friday morning, and wherein the author indulged 
in the same freedom, he was condemned to the fiames. 

In the seventh Parliament of this reign, held at Edinburgh, in March 1640, a carious 
and interesting Act was passed " Tnitching the lugging of Leith Wynde," wherein "it is 
ordained that the Provost, Baillies, and Council of Edinburgh, warne all manner of per- 
sones that lies ony laudes, biginges, and waistes, upon the west side of Leith Wynde, 
that they within Keir and day, big and repaire, honestlie, their said waistes and ruinous 
houses, and gif not, it sail be leifful to the saidis Proveste and Baillies to cost down the 
said waiste landes, and with the stnfte and stanes thereof, bigge ane honest subst&ntious 
wall, fra the Porte of the Nether Bow, to the Trinitie College. And because tie easte side 
of the saide Wyude perteines to the abbot and convente of Halyrude-house, it is 

, p. 105. Diurnal of OccurmiU, p. 28. Pitecotti*, Tol. ii. p. 878. 

DiwwUUon on th* wrly Scotti.l. Drama. UTM of Scot. Foots, *ol i. p. S09. 


ordained that the Itoillics of the Cannongate garre sik like he done upon the said 

id*." 1 

Although :ill tho Parliaments during tliis reign assembled ivt Edinburgh, the Palaoo 
of llolyrood was only the occasional residence of -lame- V. V.-l he seems to ha\e 
diligently continued tho works begun hon> by his father, and tradition still assigns to 
him, with ovory appearance of i ruth, the erection of the north-west to\\ers of the Palaoo, 
the only port ion of t lie original building that has survived tlio >;cneral conflagration by 
the Knu'lish in the following reign. On the bottom of the nvossod pan no I of the nortli 
tower, could be traeed. about thirty years since, in raised Roman letters, gilt, tho word-. 

The last, occurrence of local interest in the lifetime of this Monarch, is tints recorded 
in the Diurnal of Occurrents : " Upon the last day of Februar, tlieir was ane oerhuno 
of jH'rsoues accusit for hercsie in ablmy kirk of Halyrndhous ; and thair was eondompnit 
t\va blaekt'reris, sine rhaiiiuni of Sanet Androis, the vicar of Oollour ; ane (nvist, and ane 
lawit man that dnelt in Stirling, were brynt the same day on the Tastell Hill of 
Edinburgh." s Tims brietly is recorded an oeonnvnoe. \vhioh yet is the pregnant fore- 
runner of o\oiit> that erowd the sueeooding pages of Seottish history, until the Stuart 
race for foil oil the throne. 

Our subject does not require us to deal further with the character of , lames V., or tho 
general events of his reign, lie died at Falkland on the 14th of December IMU, tuid 
his body was thereafter conveyed to Kdinbnrgh, where his faithful servitor and friend, 
Sir David Lindsay, must have directed the mournful ceremony that laid his royal master 
1>\ the side of Queen Magdalene, his tirst young bride, in Holyrood Church, Tho 
sumptuous display, that can neither lighten grief nor ward oil' death, attended, as usual, 
on the lust rites of the poet King. From the household books of the Cardinal Menton, 
we learn that he spent "for a manual at the King's funeral. Ids.; for a mitre of white 
damask, -I'Js. ; for four mourning garments, .(.';!, ISs. 1(1,1.," wherewith to ollieiate in 
the services of the church, that committed tho remains of his royal master to their final 

Of the general manners of the age, considerable insight may bo obtained from the acts 
of the Parliaments held duriug this reign, regulating inn-keepers and travellers, bailies, 
craftsmen, judges, and beggars, all of whom are severally directed in their callings, with 
careful minuteness. 

I'.ui the satires of Sir David Lindsay are still more pointed and curious in their 
allusions to this subject His Supplication to tho Kingis yraco in Contemptioun t>/' tfytfa 
Taillis, attacks a fashion that had already excited the satiric ire of Dunbar, as well as 
the graver but less elfeelual censures of the Parliament; and already, in this early poem, 
he begins to touch with sly humour on the excesses of the clergy, oven while dealing with 
this humble theme. Though bishops, he says, with seeming commendation, for the 
dignity of their office, have men to bear up their tails, yet that is no reason 

That every liuly of tlio land 

Suld Imve hir tuill 10 ydo traillmul 

1 ScoU Aotn, 12mo, ol. I. p. 248. Dinriml of Ooourreuti, ji. 28. 


Quhare ever they go, it may be sene, 
How kirk and calsay they soup cleue. 

Yet shortly after he adds :- 

I trow, Sanct Barnard, nor Sanct Blaia, 
Gart never man beir up their clues, 
Peter, nor Paule, nor Sanct Androw, 
Gart never bear up their taillis, I trow. 

The whole poem evidently depicts the extravagance of an age, when the clown trod 
on the noble's heel. Nuns, and milkmaids, and burghers' wives, are alike charged 
with the fashionable excesses that neither satire nor sumptuary laws proved able to 

VIGNETTE Norman Capital from Holyrood Abbey. 




HE death of James] 
V. again involved 
the Scottish nation in ] 
all the evils of a pro- 
tracted minority, ag- 
gravated by defeat and ;.| 
internal discord. The fatal events of Flodden had placed the Crown of Scotland on his 
infant brow, at the early age of eighteen months, and he again bequeathed its onerous 
dignities to the unfortunate Mary, then only an infant of a few days old, the sole heir of 
his crown, and of more than all his misfortunes. 

With a sad presentiment of the future, the broken-hearted Monarch received on his 
death-bed the intelligence, that his Queen had given birth to a daughter in Linlithgow 
Palace, and exclaimed in the bitterness of his heart, " It came with a lass, and it will go 
with a lass ! " 

" Woe is me! " exclaimed Henry VIII. , when the news of the King's death reached 
the English Court, " for I will never have any King in Scotland so set to me again, nor 
one whom I favoured so well ! " Yet the advantages that such an occurrence afforded were 
not lost sight of by that wily Monarch. His recent success had placed a number of the 
Scottish nobility in his power, and these he now sought to secure to his interests, by grant- 
ing them their freedom, and loading them with costly gifts. And from this time forward, 
until the final accession of James VI. to the crown of England, an English party 
continued to be maintained among the Scottish nobility, plotting the overthrow of every 
patriotic scheme, the ready tools of their country's enemies ; and if occasionally they are 

VIGNETTE The Black Turnpike, where Queen Mary slept after her surrender at Carberry Hill. 


found to throw the weight of their influence into the scale of liberty and rightj it is only 
because the interests of England chanced to tally with such views. 

One of the most eminent Scotsmen of this period was the celebrated Cardinal Beaton. 
As the head of the Scottish clergy, he was naturally opposed to the entire system of policy 
pursued by Henry VIII., and was mainly instrumental in preventing the promised inter- 
view between James V. and the English Monarch at York, and thereby bringing on the 
war, the disastrous issue of which is justly considered to have occasioned James's death. 

This sudden event, as it overturned many of the schemes of the Cardinal, set him only 
the more zealously to devise others. Immediately thereafter, he produced a will of the late 
King, in which he was nominated Kegent, with three of the nobility as his assistants, and 
which he caused forthwith to be proclaimed at the Cross of Edinburgh. 

Historians are generally agreed as to the forgery of this will, yet the Earl of Arran, who, 
next to the infant Mary, was heir to the crown, cheerfully acquiesced in its arrangement, 
and showed himself willing to co-operate with the Cardinal in his ambitious designs. A 
numerous part of the nobility, however, to whom the Cardinal was an object of detestation, 
as his projects were altogether incompatible with their own selfish views, soon wrought 
upon the imbecile Earl to desert his faction, and while the matter was still in suspense, 
the opportune arrival of the liberated prisoners from London, now in the pay of the English 
Monarch, on the 1st of January 1543, completed his overthrow; and, notwithstanding his 
having already assumed the Regency, he was set aside, and the Earl of Arran elected in his 

The grand scheme of the English Monarch at this period, from the failure of which 
originated all the enmity he afterwards manifested towards Scotland, was the promotion 
of a marriage between his own son, afterwards Edward VI, and the young Queen of 

On the 8th of March a Parliament assembled at Edinburgh, to which the English 
Monarch sent an ambassador with offers of lasting peace should they comply with his 
proposed alliance. The Cardinal, who saw in this the certain downfall of the Church, 
brought the whole influence of the clergy, as well as that of the Queen Dowager, Mary 
of Guise, to bear against it, but at the moment without effect. The Cardinal, by a 
vote of Parliament, was committed a prisoner to Dalkeith Castle, under the care of 
Lord Seton, and everything was forthwith settled with England on the most friendly 

About the same time, Marcus Grymanus, patriarch of Aquileia, or, according to Lesly 
and others, Contareno, patriarch of Venice, arrived at Edinburgh, as the Papal Legate, 
commissioned to use all his influence to prevent the proposed alliance between the Scottish 
Queen and Prince Edward of England, and bearing the amplest promises of assistance 
from the Pope, in case of a rupture with that crown. " After he had been courteously 
and splendidly entertained at Edinburgh by persons of the greatest rank, he departed in 
the beginning of March, and was so well pleased with the reception he had met with, that 
wherever he went afterwards, he spoke of the magnificent civilities of the Scottish 
nation." Bishop Leslie thus records a costly entertainment furnished to him in the 
Scottish capital. " The Earle of Murray makand him the banquet in his house, although 

1 Bishop Keith's History of Scotland, 1845, vol. i. p. 96. 


he had great store of all kind of silver wark, yet nottheless, for the greater magnificence, 
he set forth ane cupboard furnished with all sorts of glasses of the finest chrystal that 
could be made ; and to make the said patriarch understand that there was great abund- 
ance thereof in Scotland, he caused one of his servants, as it had been by sloth and 
negligence, pull down the cupboard cloth, so that all the whole christenings suddenly 
were cast down to the earth and broken ; wherewith the patriarch was very sorry, but the 
Earl suddenly caused bring another cupboard, better furnished with fine chrystal nor that 
was ; which the patriarch praised, as well for the magnificence of the Earl, as for the 
fineness of the chrystal, affirming that he never did see better in Venice, where he himself 
was born." l 

The legate exercised considerable influence over the Queen Dowager, and on his depar- 
ture, transferred his legatine power to Cardinal Beaton. 

Meanwhile, the people were filled with the utmost joy at the prospect of a peace, the 
uncertainty which had prevailed for so many years having nearly destroyed trade. The 
merchants bestirred themselves immediately with the liveliest zeal, every seaport of the 
kingdom exhibited the most active symptoms of preparation for renewing the commercial 
intercourse, so long interrupted with England, and Edinburgh alone fitted out twelve 
large vessels, and despatched them laden with the most valuable merchandise. But the 
Cardinal soon regained his liberty, and, aided by the co-operation of the Queen Dowager 
and the contributions of the clergy, who at a convocation held at St Andrews, in May 
of the same year, not only voted him money, but even the silver vessels of their churches, 
he speedily overturned all the amicable arrangements with the English Monarch, and the 
numerous fleets of merchantmen, that had so recently sailed for the English seaports, 
were there seized, their merchandise confiscated, and the crews declared prisoners of war. 
The first use the Cardinal made of this fund, was to turn his arms against his rivals at 
home. The Earl of Lennox having appropriated the larger portion of thirty thousand 
crowns sent by the King of France to aid the efforts of the Catholic party, the Cardinal 
persuaded the facile Regent to raise an army to proceed against him to Glasgow, where 
he then lay in the Bishop's Castle there ; but Lennox immediately summoning his own 
friends and vassals to his standard, marched to Leith at the head of an army of ten 
thousand men, from whence he sent a message to the Cardinal at Edinburgh, intimating 
that he desired to save him such a journey, and would be ready to meet him any day he 
chose, in the fields between Edinburgh and Leith. 

Thus were the nobles of Scotland divided into rival factions, and bent only on each 
others, overthrow, when, on the 1st of May 1544, an armament, consisting of two hundred 
sail, commanded by Dudley Lord 1'Isle, then High Admiral of England, which had 
been prepared by Henry to send against the French coast, made its appearance in the 
Firth of Forth ; and so negligent had the Cardinal proved in providing against the enemy, 
whom he excited to this attack, that the first notice he had of their intentions, was the 
disembarkation of the English forces, under the command of the Earl of Hertford, at 
Newhaven, and the seizure of the town of Leith. 2 The Cardinal immediately deserted the 
capital and fled in the greatest dismay to Stirling. The Earl of Hertford demanded the 
unconditional surrender of the infant Queen, and being informed that the Scottish capital 

1 Bishop Leslie's History of Scotland, Ban. Club, p. 179. * Ibid, p. 180. 



and nation would suffer every disaster before they would submit to his ignominious 
terms, he marched immediately with his whole forces upon Edinburgh. The citizens, 
being taken by surprise, and altogether unprepared for resisting so formidable a force, 
sent out a deputation, with Sir Adam Otterburn, the Provost, at its head, offering to 
evacuate the town and deliver up the keys to the commander of the English army, on 
condition that they should be permitted to carry off their effects, and that the city should 
be saved from fire. But nothing would satisfy the English general but an unconditional 
surrender of life and property. He made answer That his commission extended to the 
burning and laying waste the country, unless the governor would deliver the young Queen 
to his master. The Provost replied " Then it were better the city should stand on its 

An immediate attack was thereupon made. The English army entered by the Water- 
gate without opposition, and assaulted the Nether Bow Port, and beat it open on the second 
day, with a terrible slaughter of the citizens. They immediately attempted to lay siege to 
the Castle. " Seeing no resistance, they hauled their cannons up the High Street, by force 
of men, to the Butter-Trone, and above, and hazarded a shot against the fore entrie of the 
Castle. But the wheel and axle-tree of one of the English cannons was broken, and some 
of their men slaine by a shot of ordnance out of the Castle ; so they left that rash enter- 
prise." 1 

Baffled in their attempts on the fortress, they immediately proceeded to wreak their 
vengeance on the city. They set it on fire in numerous quarters, and continued the work 
of devastation and plunder till compelled to abandon it by the smoke and flames, as well 
as the continual firing from the Castle. They renewed the work of destruction on the fol- 
lowing day ; and for three successive days they returned with unabated fury to the smoking 
ruins, till they had completely effected their purpose. 

The Earl of Hertford then proceeded to lay waste the surrounding country with fire 
and sword. Craigmillar Castle, which was surrendered on the promise of being preserved 
scatheless, 2 was immediately devoted to the flames. Roslyn Castle shared the same fate. 
Part of the army then proceeded southward by land, burning and destroying every abbey, 
town, and village, between the capital and Dunbar. The remainder of the army returned 
to Leith, which they plundered and set fire to in many places ; and then embarking their 
whole force, they set sail for England. 

This disastrous event forms an important era in the history of Edinburgh ; if we except 
a portion of the Castle, the churches, and the north-west wing of Holyrood Palace, no 
building, anterior to this date, now exists in Edinburgh. One other building, Trinity 
Hospital, the oldest part of which bore the date 1462, has been swept away by the opera- 
tions of the North British Railway, during the past year (1845), unquestionably, with the 
exception of the Castle and churches, at once the most ancient and perhaps interesting 
building that Edinburgh possessed. 3 

Such was the means adopted by Henry VIII. to secure the hand of the Scottish Queen 
for his son, a method somewhat analogous to the system of wooing he practised with such 

1 Calderwood's History, Wod. Soc. vol. i. p. 177. 2 Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 32. 

3 A remarkably interesting view of Edinburgh, previous to its destruction at this period, is still preserved in the British 
Museum ; a careful fac-siraile of this is given in a volume of the Bannatyne Club's Miscellany, some account of which will 
be found in a later part of this work. 


success on his own behalf. The Scottish nation, torn at this time by rival factions, and 
destitute of any leader or guide, could only submit in passive indignation to his ruthless 
vengeance. Yet, with their usual pertinacity, they shortly after mustered about thirteen 
hundred men, who "raid into England and brunt and herijt certane townes on the bor- 
douris vnto Tilmouth ; " and, on the twelfth of July following, the Earl of Angus was 
proclaimed lieutenant, and commanded the realm to follow him in an hour's warning, 
" with foure dayis victuall, to pass on their aid enemies of Ingland." 1 

During the following year 1545-6, Edinburgh Castle was for a brief period the scene 
of Wishart's imprisonment, after his seizure by the Earl of Bothwell, and delivery into 
the hands of Cardinal Beaton, at Elphinstone Tower ; an ancient keep, situated in East 
Lothian, about two miles from the village of Tranent. A wretched dungeon, under the 
great hall of Elphinstone, is still pointed out as the place of Wishart's imprisonment, as 
well as another room, in which the Cardinal slept at the same period. The burning of 
Wishart immediately afterwards at St Andrews, as well as the death of the Cardinal, by 
the hands of Wishart's friends, which so speedily followed, are facts familiar to the 
student of Scottish history. 

The death of Henry VIII. in 1547 tended to accelerate the renewal of his project for 
enforcing the union of the neighbouring kingdoms, by the marriage of his son with the 
Scottish Queen. Henry, on his deathbed, urged the prosecution of the war with Scot- 
land; and the councillors of the young King Edward VI. lost no time in completing their 
arrangements for the purpose. 

The Scottish Court was at this time at Stirling, but the council made the most 
vigorous preparations for the defence of the kingdom. A proclamation was issued on the 
19th of March, requiring all the lieges to be ready, on forty days' warning, to muster at 
their summons, with victuals for one month ; and on the 25th of May, this was followed 
by another order for preparing beacon fires on all the high hills along the coast, to give 
warning of the approach of the enemy's fleet. The more urgently to summon the people 
to arms, the Earl of Arran adopted an expedient seldom resorted to, except in cases of 
imminent peril ; he caused the Fiery Cross to be borne by the heralds throughout the 
realm, summoning all men, as well spiritual as temporal, between sixty and sixteen, to 
be ready to repair to the city of Edinburgh, meil bodin in feir of weir, at the first notice of 
the English ships. 2 

In the beginning of September, the Earl of Hertford, now Duke of Somerset, and 
Lord Protector of England, during the minority of his nephew Edward VI, again entered 
Scotland at the head of a numerous army ; while a fleet of about sixty sail co-operated 
with him, by a descent on the Scottish coast. At his advance, he found the Scottish army 
assembled in great force to oppose him, whereupon he wrote to the Governor of Scotland, 
offering for the sake of peace, that while he still insisted on the hand of the Queen for his 
royal master, he would agree to conditions by which she should remain within Scotland 
until she were fit for marriage. 

The Scottish leaders, however, were resolute in rejecting this alliance with England at 
whatever cost ; and in proof of the strong feeling of opposition that existed, it may be 
mentioned, that the Scottish army included a large body of priests and monks, who 

1 Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 33. 2 Keith's History, vol. i. p. 128. Tytler, vol. vi. p. 23. 


inarched under a white banner, on which was painted a female kneeling before .a crucifix, 
her hair dishevelled, and embroidered underneath the motto "Afflicts* Ecclesite ne 


Preparatory to determining their differences by force of arms, the Earl of Huntly made 
offer to the English leader to decide the issue by single combat ; but this he rejected, and 
after skirmishing for several days with various success in the neighbourhood of Preston- 
pans, where the English army was encamped, a scene long afterwards made memorable 
by the brief triumph of Mary's hapless descendant, Charles Stuart the two armies at 
length came to a decisive engagement on Saturday the 10th of September 1547, long 
after known by the name of " Black Saturday." 2 

The field of Pinkie, the scene of this fatal contest, lies about six miles distant from 
Edinburgh, and so near to the sea, that the English ships did great injury to the Scottish 
army, as they marched towards the field of battle. The stately mansion of Pinkie House, 
formerly the residence of the Abbots of Dunfermline, still remains in perfect preservation, 
in the immediate vicinity of the scene where the fatal battle of Pinkie was fought. The 
Scots were at first victorious, and succeeded in driving back the enemy, and carrying off 
the royal standard of England ; but being almost destitute of cavalry, they were unable to 
follow up their advantage, and being at length thrown into disorder by the enemy's men- 
at-arms, consisting principally of a body of mounted Spanish carabineers in complete mail, 
they were driven from the field, after a dreadful slaughter, with the loss of many of their 
nobles and leaders, both slain and taken prisoners. 

Immediately after the battle, the English advanced and took the town of Leith, where 
they tarried a few days, during which the Earl of Huntly, and many other Scottish 
prisoners of every degree, were confined in St Mary's Church there, while treating for 
their ransom. 3 They also made an unsuccessful attempt on Edinburgh, whose provost 
had fallen on the field, and where it is recorded that this fatal battle had alone made 
three hundred and sixty widows; 4 but finding. the Scottish nation as resolute as ever in 
rejecting all terms of accommodation, they again pillaged and burned the town of Leith, 
spoiled the Abbey of Holyrood, from which they tore off the leaden roof, and re-embarked 
on board their fleet. They wreaked their vengeance on some defenceless fishing towns 
and villages along the coast of the Firth, and then returned to England, where Arch- 
bishop Cranmer prepared a general thanksgiving to be used throughout all the churches 
in the kingdom, for the great victory God had vouchsafed them over their enemies ! So 
differently are the same actions estimated, according as our interests are affected ; for the 
Duke of Somerset had so exasperated the Scottish nation by his cruelty, and disgusted 
even the barons who had inclined to the English party by his impolitic conduct, that they 
were more unanimous than ever against the proposed alliance. " The cruelty," says 
Tytler, " of the slaughter at Pinkie, and the subsequent severities at Leith, excited 
universal indignation ; and the idea that a free country was to be compelled into a pacific 
matrimonial alliance, amid the groans of its dying citizens, and the flames of its seaports, 
was revolting and absurd." 6 

The Queen Dowager availed herself of the popular feeling thus so strongly excited with 

1 Tytler, vol. vi. p. 31. " Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 44. Biahop Leslie's History, p. 198. 

4 Herries' Memoirs, p. 21. 5 Tytler, vol. vi. p. 42. 


promptitude and success ; she summoned the nobility to Stirling, and urged on them the 
immediate assembly of another army. It was determined to despatch ambassadors to 
France with a request for instant aid ; and at a council held there shortly after, it was 
resolved to send the young queen, then a beautiful child, in her sixth year, to the French 
Court, where she could pursue her education free from the dangers to which she was 
exposed in a country divided by rival factions, and exposed to almost constant war. 
By their victory at the battle of Ancrum, the Scots in some degree retrieved their ground, 
and they were shortly afterwards gratified by the opportune arrival of Monsieur D'Esse' 
in the Firth of Forth, as ambassador from the French Monarch, with a fleet of six score 
sail, bringing a reinforcement of eight thousand French and one thousand Dutch troops, 
which were disembarked at Leith on the 16th of June 1548, along with a numerous train 
of artillery. 1 Monsieur D'Esse was the bearer of the warmest assurance of further aid in 
troops, money, and arms, from the French King, and a proposal that the ancient amity 
of the two nations should now be confirmed by a marriage between his son, the Dauphin, 
and the Scottish Queen, whose education meanwhile he offered to superintend with the 
utmost care and affection. It need not be wondered at, that an alliance proposed in so 
very different a manner from the last, was properly acceded to by the Scottish Parlia- 
ment. The Earl of Huntly, it is said, when desired to use his influence in favour of 
the marriage with Edward VI., after he had been taken prisoner, replied, that however 
he might like the match, he liked not the manner of wooing ! 2 Shortly after, Monsieur 
Villegagnon, set sail with four galleys from Leith, and passing round the north of Scot- 
land, received the youthful Queen on board at Dumbarton. She was accompanied by her 
governors, the Lords Erskine and Livingston, and her natural brother, the Lord James, 
afterwards the famous Regent Murray, then in his seventeenth year. Along with her 
also embarked the Queen's four Maries, famous in Scottish song, selected as her playmates 
from the families of Livingston, Fleming, Seaton, and Beaton. " What bruit," says 
Knox, in referring to them, " the Maries, and the rest of the dancers of the Court had, 
the ballads of that age doe witness. " * The English Government, on learning of this 
design, fitted out a fleet to intercept the Queen, but the squadron fortunately escaped 
every danger, and cast anchor in the harbour of Brest on the 13th of August 1548. 

The slow recovery even of the chief towns of the kingdom from such repeated ravages, 
is apparent from the fact that Monsieur D'Esse, the French commander, on returning 
from the south, undertook the fortification of Leith, but such was its ruinous state from 
its frequent burnings, that no lodging could be found there for his men, and they were 
forced to seek accommodation in the neighbouring villages. 4 

The fortification of Leith, however, exercised a most important influence upon it; 
people crowded from all parts to .shelter themselves under the protection of its garrison ; 
and it speedily thereafter, as we shall find, became a place of great importance, when the 
conclusion of peace with England permitted the rival factions, into which the kingdom 
was already divided, to gain head and assume form and consistency. 

Maitland furnishes a detailed account of these fortifications, which had five ports, only 

1 Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 46. Tytler, vol. vi. p. 51. a Keith's History, Note, vol. i. p. 133. 

3 Knox's History of the Reformation, p. 373-4. See Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border for the old ballad " The 
Queen's Marie." * Bishop Leslie, p. 216. 


one of which, called St Anthony's Gate, he was able to trace with certainty. 1 This port 
stood at the north-west corner of St Anthony's Wyud, and some remains of the ancient 
bastion by which it was protected may still be seen in a neighbouring garden. 

This gate, as well as the street that now occupies its site, were so named from their 
vicinity to the preceptory of St Anthony a detailed account of which, as well as its an- 
cient dependency on Arthur's Seat, will be found in a later part of the work. 

We have introduced here the view of 
a very curious house, the date of erection 
of which may be referred to this period. 
It stood on the west side of the Kirkgate, 
and was only taken down in 1845. It had 
an inscription over the doorway, boldly cut 
in old English letters 

and a niche above it, in which there had 
doubtless been a statue of the virgin and 
child. Local tradition pointed it out as 
a chapel founded by Mary of Guise, but 
apparently without any sufficient evidence. 

The English, before their last departure 
from Leith, had erected fortifications on the 
neighbouring island of Inchkeith, and left 
there a strong garrison, composed in part of 
a troop of Italian mercenaries in their pay, 
by whom it was held to the great detriment 
of vessels navigating the Firth. But now, 
as soon as Monsieur D'Esse had got the 
fortifications of Leith in a state of forward- 
ness, a general attack was made upon Inch- 
keith, on Corpus Christi day, 1549, 2 by a 
combined force of Scotch and French troops, who embarked at break of day, in presence 
of the Queen Dowager ; when, after a fierce contest, the enemy were expelled from their 
stronghold, and compelled to surrender at discretion, with the loss of their leader, and 
above 300 slain. 3 The island continued from that time to be held by a French garrison, 
on behalf of the Queen Dowager, until her death in 1560, and the remains of their forti- 
fications are still visible there. 

But the Scottish nation were not long in experiencing the usual evils consequent on the 
employment of foreign troops. We have already, in an earlier part of the work, 4 given an 
illustration of the popular estimation of such allies, and the gratitude of the common 
people on the present occasion does not seem to have been in any degree more sincere. 
Heartburnings and animosities had already been manifested during the campaign, and 
they at last broke out into open and fatal tumult in the capital. 


Maitland, p. 486. 2 Bishop Leslie, p. 228. 3 Diurnal of Oocurrents, p. 48. 4 Chap. ii. 

p. 12. 


In the beginning of October, in this same year, the Scottish forces were mustered on 
the Borough Muir of Edinburgh, to the number of ten thousand men ; the English having 
been at length fairly starved out of the country, " For the pest and hangar was rycht evill 
amangis tham, quha mycht remayne na langer thairin ; " * and so, having no enemy to 
contend with, they and their allies immediately quarrelled. " There chanced," says Bishop 
Leslie (who has furnished the most detailed account of the transaction), " to fall out not 
a little piece of trouble in Edinburgh, betwixt the Scotch and Frenchmen, by reason that 
a French soldier fell at quarelling with a Scotsman upon the High Street, and after words 
they came to blows, so that divers Scotsmen coming to the fray, would have had the 
Frenchman to prison ; but divers of the French soldiers being also present, would not 
suffer them to take him with them ; whereupon the captains being advertised, come with all 
speed to the highway. The Laird of Stenhouse (James Hamilton), being the Captain of 
the Castle and Provost of the town, comes likewise with a company to put order thereto. 
The French soldiers being so furious that they shot their harquebusses indiferently at all 
men, wherewith there were sundry slain, both men, weomeu, and children ; among the 
which the foresaid Provost of Edinburgh was slayn, and Master William Stewart, a gentle- 
man of good reputation, with sundry others ; whereby the whole people conceived a great 
grudge and hatred against the Frenchmen, and for revenge thereof there was many French- 
men slain at Edinburgh at sundry times thereafter." Calderwood further states, that 
the Frenchmen were driven by the citizens from the Cross to Niddry's Wyud-head, where 
they rallied and were joined by a number of their fellow-soldiers ; they were again com- 
pelled to retreat, however, till on their reaching the Nether Bow, the whole body of French 
troops encountered the Provost and citizens ; and there the Provost, and his son, and 
various other citizens, women as well as men, were slain. The French troops kept posses- 
sion of the town from five to seven at night, when they retired to the Canongate. 3 To 
appease the matter, the Frenchman, chief beginner of the business, was hanged the same 
day at the market place of Edinburgh, where the quarrel first began. A very unpropitious 
state of things, as the only alternative seemingly left to the Scots from another English 

In the month of April 1550, a final peace was concluded with England, the latter 
abandoning all those unjustifiable projects of forced alliance, which had been attempted to 
be enforced with such relentless barbarity during a nine years' war. 

In the year 1551, the Queen Dowager returned from a visit she had made to the 
French Court, and immediately thereafter, on the 29th of May, a Parliament was held at 
Edinburgh, and another in the month of February following, at both of which enactments 
were passed, which furnish, at once, evidence of the state of the pountry at the period, 
and afford curious insight into the manners of the age. One of these is " anent the 
aunuelles of landes burnt be our auld enemies of England, within the burgh of Edin- 
burgh and other burghs," 4 and bears a special reference to Edinburgh, having been 
enacted at the suit of the Provost and Bailies thereof, to settle disputed claims by the 

Others, again, are addressed against many prevailing vices or extravagances of the age, 

1 Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 48. - Bishop Leslie, p. 217. 

3 Calderwood's History, vol. i. p. 258. 4 Scots Acts, vol. i. p. 271. 


interfering with a high hand, even to the " ordouring of everie mannis house," and regu- 
lating with a most rigid economy the number of dishes at each man's table, according to 
his degree. But the most interesting is, that against printing without licence, furnishing 
an insight into the variety and character of the writings then issuing from the press, and 
already strongly influencing the public mind. " That na preuter presume to prent ony 
buikes, ballattes, sanges, blasphemationes, rime, or tragedies, outlier in Latine or English 
touug," without due examination and licence granted, under pain of confiscation of goods, 
and banishment of the realm for ever. 1 Sir David Lindsay had already published his 
Tragedie of the Cardinal, and it seems to have been about this time that he put forth 
The Historic and Testament of Squyer Meldrum, one of his most pleasing poems, though 
in parts exhibiting a licence, as to incident and language, common to the writers of that 
age. This poem is the versification of a romantic incident which occurred under his own 
observation during the unsettled period, in the earlier years of the minority of James V. 
(August 1517.) 2 The rank of Sir David Lindsay, and the influence he had enjoyed 
during the previous reign, had continued to preserve him from all interference ; nor was 
it till the accession of Elizabeth to the throne of England, and the steps in favour of the 
Protestant party that followed thereon, that the Catholic clergy at length denounced his 
writings as the fruitful source of movement in the popular mind. 

The object of the Queen Dowager, in her recent visit to France, had been mainly to 
secure the interest of that Court in procuring for herself the office of Eegent. The Earl 
of Arran, who still held that office, seems to have been altogether deficient in the requisite 
talents for his responsible position ; swayed alternately by whichever adviser chanced to 
hold his confidence, his government was at once feeble and uncertain. 

No sooner had the Queen Dowager secured the approbation and concurrence of the 
French King, than her emissaries departed for the Scottish capital, empowered to break 
the affair to the Regent, with such advantageous offer as should induce him to yield up 
the office without difficulty. Threats were held out of a rigid reckoning being required as 
to the dilapidation of the revenue and crown-lands, which had taken place during his 
government. On the other hand, he was offered the splendid bribe of the Dukedom of 
Chatelherault, with ample provision for his eldest son at the French Court, while like 
liberal promises secured to the Queen's party many of the nobility. 

The Archbishop of St Andrews, who had latterly influenced all the motions of the 
Eegent, chanced at this time to be dangerously ill, so that Arran was left without counsel 
or aid, and yielded at length a reluctant consent to the exchange. 

On the return of Mary of Guise from France, she accompanied Arran in a progress 
through the northern parts of the kingdom, in which she exhibited much of that prudence 
and ability which she undoubtedly possessed, and which, in more fortunate times, might 
have largely promoted the best interests of the country : while such was the popularity 
she acquired, that the Eegent became highly jealous of her influence, and when reminded 
of his promise, indignantly refused to yield up the government into her hands. 

The Queen Dowager, however, already possessed the real power ; and while the Eegent, 
with his few adherents, continued to reside at Edinburgh, and maintain there the forms of 
government, she was holding a brilliant court at Stirling, and securing to her party the 

1 Scots Acts, vol. i. p. 286. s Pitscottie, vol. ii. p. 305. 


entire nobility, and most influential leaders among the clergy; the Primate of St Andrews, 
brother of the Regent, being almost the only man of any weight still adhering to 
him. 1 

Moved alike by promises and threats, the imbecile Eegent at length resigned the govern- 
ment, and a Parliament thereupon assembled at Edinburgh on the 12th of April 1554, in 
which the transference of the government was ratified, and a commission produced from 
Queen Mary, then in her twelfth year, appointing her mother, Mary of Guise, Regent of 
the realm, which the estates of Parliament confirmed by their subscriptions and seals. 
The Earl of Arran, or as he was now styled, Duke of Chatelherault, then rose, and deli- 
vered up the royal crown, sword, and sceptre, into the hands of Monsieur D'Oysel, the 
French ambassador, who received them in the name of Queen Mary, by the authority of 
the King of France, and others, her chosen curators ; and immediately thereafter he pro- 
duced a mandate from the Queen, in obedience to which he delivered them to the Queen 
Dowager. 2 The new Regent acknowledged her acceptance of the office, and received the 
homage and congratulations of the assembled nobility. She was then conducted in public 
procession, with great pomp and acclamation, through the city to the Palace of Holyrood, 
and immediately entered upon the administration of the government. 

The uncertainty of the government, previous to this settlement, and the enfeebled power 
of the nominal Regent, exposed the capital as usual to disorders and tumults. From the 
Council Register of this year 1554, we learn, that owing to the frequent robberies and 
assaults committed in the streets of Edinburgh at night, the Council ordered " lanterns or 
bowets to be hung out in the streets and closes, by such persons and in such places as the 
magistrates should appoint, to continue burning from five o'clock in the evening till nine, 
which was judged a proper time for people to repair to their respective habitations." 3 The 
account is curious and interesting, as furnishing the earliest notice of lighting up the public 
streets of the Scottish capital. 

The narratives of these disorders, furnished by contemporary authors, exhibit a state of 
lawless violence that demanded of the magistrates no measured zeal to suppress. The 
occasion was made available by rival factions to renew their ancient feuds, " and to quyt 
querrellis, thinking this to be tyme most convenient." 4 Various deadly combats took 
place ; the Laird of Buccleuch was slain on the public streets by a party of the Kerrs, 
and this was followed as usual by sworn strife between the rival clans. " About the same 
time," says Bishop Leslie, " the Master of Ruthven slew a valiant gentleman, called John 
Charteris of Kinclevin, in Edinburgh, upon occasion of old feud, and for staying of a 
decret of ane proces which the said John pursued against him before the Lords of Session," 
which led to the passing of an Act by the next Parliament, that whosoever should slay a 
man for pursuing an action against him, should forfeit the right of judgment in his action, 
in addition to his liability to the laws for the crime. This author further records, that 
the Lord Semple slew the Lord Crichtoun of Sanquhar, in the governor's own house in 
Edinburgh; and by the interest of the Archbishop of St Andrews and other friends, 
escaped free from all consequences of the crime. 5 A state of things that must have made 
the people at large rejoice in seeing the reins of government transferred to vigorous 

1 Bishop Leslie, p. 245. 2 Keith's Hist., vol. i. p. 142. 3 Maitland, p. 14. 

4 Bishop Leslie's History, p. 247. f Ibid, p. 248. 


hands, whatever might be* the feelings of a few interested partizans of the Regent 

In the midst of these transactions, and while the Queen Dowager was skilfully arranging 
for the transference of the government into her own hands, the death of Edward VI. 
had created a total change in the neighbouring kingdom, and rendered the position and 
future line of policy to be pursued by Scotland in its intercourse with England altogether 


Probably, no ruler ever assumed the reins of government in Scotland with such general 
approbation of the people as the Queen Regent now did. She had already manifested 
both skill and judgment in attaining the Regency. She had secured it, although a decided 
Catholic, with the full concurrence of the Protestant party ; and while, by her prudent 
concessions to them, she had won their favour, she had managed this with such skill as in 
no way to alienate from her the powerful Catholic party, among whose leaders were some 
of the chief men of learning and ability at the Scottish Court. 

But it has ever, even with the wisest rulers, proved a more difficult thing to maintain 
authority than to acquire it. To the people, indeed, any government capable of securing to 
them the free exercise of their rights, and curbing the licentious turbulence of the nobles, 
must have proved a change for the better. Yet, in her very first proceedings, she attacked 
one of the most deeply-rooted national prejudices, at once disgusting the nobility, and 
exciting the jealousy of the people, by placing many of the most important offices of state 
in the hands of foreigners, and rousing a spirit of opposition to the government which led 
to the most fatal results. 

Meanwhile, the Regent devoted herself sedulously to the promotion of peace. A cordial 
union was established with England, and a Parliament assembled at Edinburgh, June 20th, 
1555, many of whose enactments were well calculated to promote the interests of the nation. 
One of them, however, entitled " An Act anent the speaking evil of the Queen's Grace, 
or French-men," affords evidence not only that the jealousy occasioned by the presence of 
the foreign troops was unabated, but that the unpopularity of her auxiliaries was already 
extending to the Queen Regent. 

Several of the new statutes are directed to restrain the laxity of the people in their 
religious observances. One is entitled " Anent eating of flesh in Lentron (Lent) and other 
daies forbidden." 1 Another of these Acts " Anent Robert Hude and abbot of Un-reason," 
exhibits symptoms of the spirit of jealous reform, that was now influencing both parties 
on every question in the remotest degree affecting religion. It is the first attack on those 
ancient games and festivals, which this spirit of reform succeeded at length in banishing 
entirely from Scotland. The Act prohibits, under severest penalties, the choosing any such 
personage as Robin Hood, Little John, abbot of Un-reason, or Queen of May ; and adds 
" if onie weomen or others, about summer trees singing, make perturbation to the Queen's 
lieges, the weomen perturbatoures sail be taken, handled, and put upon the cuck-stules of 
every burgh or toune. " 2 It may well be regretted by others, besides the antiquary, that 
the singing about summer trees, as it is poetically expressed, should have excited the 
jealousy of any party, as detrimental to the interests of religion. 

1 Scots Acts, vol. i. p. 294. a Ibid, vol. i. p. 307. 


This year also is the period of John Kiiox's return to Scotland. On his escape from 
France whither he had been carried a prisoner, after the taking of the Castle of St 
Andrews he had remained in England till the death of Edward VI., whence he went for 
a time to Geneva. Immediately on his return to Scotland, he began preaching against 
the mass, as an idolatrous worship, with such effect that he was summoned before the 
ecclesiastical judicatory, held in the Blackfriars' Church in Edinburgh, on the 15th of 
May 1556. The case, however, was not pursued at the time, probably from apprehension 
of a popular tumult ; but the citation had the usual effect of increasing his popularity ; 
" and it is certain," says Bishop Keith, " that Mr Knox preached to a greater auditory 
the very day he should have made his appearance, than ever he did before." 1 At this 
time it was that the letter was written by him to the Queen Regent, entreating for 
reformation in the Church, which, on its being delivered to her by the Earl of Glencairn, 
she composedly handed it to the Archbishop of Glasgow, after glancing at it, saying 
" Please you, my Lord, to look at a pasquill ! " a striking contrast to the influence he 
afterwards exercised over her royal daughter. 2 No sooner had John Knox accepted an 
invitation, which he received that same year, from an English congregation at Geneva, 
than the clergy cited him anew before them, and in default of his appearance, he was 
condemned as an heretic, and burned in effigy at the Cross of Edinburgh. 

Towards the close of the year 1555, the City of Edinburgh gave a sumptuous 
entertainment to the Danish Ambassador, at the expense of twenty-five pounds, seventeen 
shillings, and one penny Scots ! doubtless a magnificent civic feast in those days. 3 About 
this time, the Queen Regent, acting under the advice of her French councillors, excited 
the general indignation of the Scottish nobility and people in general, by a scheme for 
raising a standing army, to supersede the usual national force, composed of the nobles 
and their retainers, and which was to be supported by a tax imposed on every man's 
estate and substance. Numerous private assemblies of the barons and gentlemen took 
place to organise a determined opposition to the scheme ; and at length three hundred of 
them assembled in the Abbey Church of Holyrood, and despatched the Lairds of Calder 
and Wemyss to the Queen Regent and her council, with so resolute a remonstrance, that 
the Queen was fain to abandon the project, and thought them little worthy of thanks that 
were the inventors of what proved a fertile source of unpopularity to her government.* 
The contentions arising from differences in religion now daily increased, and the populace 
of the capital were among the foremost to manifest their zeal against the ancient faith. 
In the year 1556, they destroyed the statues of the Virgin Mary, Trinity, and St Francis, 
in St Giles's Church, which led to a very indignant remonstrance from the Queen Regent, 
addressed to the magistrates ; but they do not seem to have been justly chargeable with 
sympathy in such reforming movements, as we find the council of that same year, in 
addition to other marks of honour conferred on the Provost, ordering that for his greater 
state, the servants of all the inhabitants shall attend him, with lighted torches, from the 
vespers or evening prayers, to his house. 5 

On the breaking out of war between England and France, in 1557, the Queen Regent, 

1 Bishop Keith's History, vol. i. p. 150. 2 Calderwood's History, Wodrow Soc., vol. i. p. 316. 

8 Council Registers, Maitland, p. 14. 4 Bishop Leslie's Hist., p. 255. 

5 Maitland, p. 1 4. 


under the influence of Henry II. of France, assembled a considerable force at Kelso, and 
sought, by all means, to persuade the nobility to unite with her in invading England. 
But though the Borderers availed themselves, with their usual alacrity, of the first 
symptoms of hostilities, to make a raid across the marches, the general sense of the 
nobility was strongly opposed to thus rashly plunging into war, without any just cause ; 
and so resolute were they against it, that the Queen Eegent, after various ineffectual 
attempts to precipitate hostilities, was compelled to dismiss the army, and abandon all 
further attempts at co-operation with France. 1 

From this occurrence may be dated the true rise of those divisions in this country 
which alienated from the Queen Regent the Scottish party, on which she had most 
depended, and ultimately led to the war of the Reformation ; and from this time forward 
the ecclesiastical is intimately blended with the civil history of the country, mainly 
influencing every important occurrence. 

The continuation of war between France and Spain at this period, induced the French 
Monarch to seek to hasten on the proposed alliance between the Dauphin and the Queen 
of Scots, to which the Queen Regent lent all her influence. A Parliament accordingly 
assembled at Edinburgh on the 14th of December 1557, before which a letter was laid 
from the King of France, proposing that the intended marriage should be carried into 
effect without delay. James Stewart, prior of St Andrews, afterwards the Regent Murray, 
and others of the leaders of the Protestant party, were chosen by the Parliament as Com- 
missioners, empowered to give their assent to the marriage, on receiving ample security 
for the preservation of the ancient laws and liberty of the kingdom. They accordingly 
proceeded to Paris, and there, on the 24th of April 1558, were witnesses of the marriage, 
which was solemnised with the utmost pomp and magnificence in the Cathedral of Notre 

Another Parliament was summoned immediately on their return, and accordingly 
assembled at Edinburgh in the beginning of December. It ratified the transactions of 
the Commissioners, and agreed, at the same time, to confer on the Dauphin the Crown of 
Scotland during the continuance of the marriage. 

As the reformed opinions spread among the people, they manifested their zeal by 
destroying images, and breaking down the carved work of the monasteries and churches. 
It was the custom at this period for the clergy of Edinburgh to walk annually in grand 
procession, on the first of September, the anniversary of St Giles, the patron saint of the 
town ; but in the year 1558, before the arrival of St Giles's day, the mob contrived to 
get into the church, and carrying off the image of the saint, which was usually borne in 
procession on such occasions, they threw it into the North Loch the favourite place for 
ducking all offenders against the seventh commandment and thereafter committed it to 
the flames. 2 The utmost confusion prevailed on its being discovered to be amissing. 
The bishops sent orders to the Provost and Magistrates either to get the old St Giles, or 
to furnish another at their own expense ; but this they declined to do, notwithstanding 
the threats and denunciations of the clergy, alleging the authority of Scripture for the 
destruction of " idols and images." 

1 Bishop Leslie'8 Hist., pp. 260, 261. Calderwood's Hist., vol. i. p. 344. 


The priests, resolving not to permit the day to pass without the usual celebration, bor- 
rowed a small statue of the saint from the Grey Friars, which they firmly secured witli iron 
clamps to the " fertorie " or shrine, 1 in which it was usually borne aloft. And the more 
fully to do honour to the occasion, and to overawe the turbulent populace, the Regent was 
prevailed on to grace the procession with her presence. The statue was borne through the 
principal streets of Edinburgh in great pomp, attended by the canons of St Giles's Church, 
and all the chief clergy in full canonicals, " with tabrons and trumpets, banners and bag- 
pipes. The Queen Regent led the ring for honour of the feast. It was convoyed about, 
and brought down the Hie Street to the common Cross. The Queen Regent dined that 
day in Alexander Carpenter's house, betwixt the Bowes. When the idol returned back, 
she left it and went in to her dinner." 

The presence of the Regent had produced the desired effect in restraining the populace 
from violence, but no sooner did she withdraw, than " the Little St Giles," as they con- 
temptuously styled the borrowed statue, was attacked with the most determined violence, 
and speedily shared the fate of its predecessor. The scene is thus graphically told by the 
same historian from whom we have already quoted : " Immediately after the Queen 
entered her lodging, some of them drew near to the idol, as willing to help to bear him 
up, and getting the fertorie upon their shoulders, beganue to shudder, thinking thereby 
the idol should have fallen. But that chance was prevented by yron nailes. Then began 
one to cry ' Down with the Idol ! down with it ! ' So without delay it was pulled down. 
The patrons of the priests made some brags at the first ; but when the priests and friars 
saw the feebleness of their god, they fled faster than they did at Pinkey Cleugh. 3 One of 
the professors [of the reformed doctrines] taking Saint Giles by the heels, and dadding 
his head to the causeway, left Dagon without head or hands ; exclaiming, ' Fy on thee, 
Young Saint Giles, thy father would not have been so used ! ' The friars fleeing," and as 
Knox exultingly declares, " down go the crosses, off go the surplices, round caps and cor- 
nets with the crowns. The Grey Friars gaped, the Black Friars blew, the Priests panted 
and fled, and happy was he that got first to the house, for such a sudden fray came never 
among the generation of antichrist within this realm before." * 

This same year, 1558, Knox issued his famous "first blast of the trumpet against the 
monstrous regiment of women," in which he attacks the Regent, along with Mary Queen 
of England, and, indeed, all female rule ; by which he afterwards brought on himself the 
personal enmity of Queen Elizabeth, even more than that of those against whom it was 
directed. By his instructions the reforming party had organised themselves under the name 
of the CONGREGATION, and their leaders now assumed the guidance in all the great move- 
ments that occurred, entering into negotiations and treaties like a sovereign power. The 
accession of Queen Elizabeth to the throne of England further added to their influence, as 
she failed not to strengthen, by every available means, the hands of the Protestant party, 
and it consisted with her wonted course of policy thus to maintain her ascendancy by under- 
mining the power of an opponent, rather than incur the consequences of an open rupture. 
The unfortunate claim which the chiefs of the house of Guise, uncles to the youthful Queen 
of Scotland, put forward in her name, as the legitimate successor of Queen Mary of Eng- 

1 Fertour, a little coffer or chest ; a casket. Jamieson. a Calderwood's History, vol. i. p. 346. 

3 Ante, p. 51. 4 Knox's Hist., p. 95. 


laud, roused iu the mind of Elizabeth that vindictive jealousy, which so largely contributed 
to all the miseries that attended the course of Mary of Scotland, from the first moment of 
her return to her native land. 

From this time forward a fatal change took place in the policy of the Queen Regent. 
She abandoned the moderate measures which her own natural disposition inclined her to ; 
she lent herself entirely to the ambitious projects of the French Court and the Chiefs of 
the house of Guise, and the immediate result was a collision between the Catholic and 
Protestant parties. Some concessions had been granted at the request of the Lords of 
the Congregation ; but now these were entirely withdrawn, a proclamation was issued for 
conformity of religion, and several of the leaders of the reforming party were summoned 
to answer for their past deeds. 1 

A provincial synod, worthy of notice, as the last ever held in Scotland during Roman 
Catholic times, was convened on the 2d of March, this year, in the Blackfriars' Church, 
Edinburgh, to consult what was required for the safety of the Church thus endangered. 
Resolutions were passed for the amendment of life in the clergy, and the removal of other 
crying abuses ; but it can hardly be wondered at that their general tone was by no means 
conciliatory ; the decrees of the Council of Trent were again declared obligatory ; the use of 
any other language than Latin, in the services of the Church, was expressly forbid ; and, 
by an act of this same synod, Sir David Lindsay's writings were denounced, and ordered 
to be burnt. 2 According to Calderwood, this, the last synod of the Church, was dissolved 
on the 2d of May, the same day that John Kuox arrived at Leith, too striking a coinci- 
dence to be overlooked. 3 

The conducting of the public religious services in an unknown language had long 
excited opposition ; and the popularity of such writings as those of Dunbar, Douglas, and 
Lindsay, in the vernacular tongue, doubtless tended to increase the general desire for its 
use in the services of the Church, as well as on all public occasions. 

In Kitteis Confessioun, a satirical poem ascribed to Sir David Lindsay, the dog-latin of 
an ignorant father-confessor is alluded to with sly humour- 
He speirit monie strange case, 

How that my lufe did me embrace, 

Quhat day, how oft, qubat sort, and quhair ? 

Quod he, I wad I had been thair. 

He me absolvit for ane plack, 

Thocht he with me na price wald mak ; 

And mekil Latine did he mummill ; 

I heard na thing bot kummill bummill. 

The poet was already in his grave when his writings were thus condemned. The last 
years of his life had been spent in retirement, and the exact time of his death is unknown, 
but Henry Charteris, the famous printer, who published Lindsay's works in 1568, says 
that " shortly after the death of Sir David, they burnt auld Walter Mill." This occurred 
in 1558, from which it may be inferred, that he died towards the close of the previous 
year, 1557. 4 

1 Tytler, vol. vi. pp. 109, 110. Pitecottie, vol. ii. p. 526. 3 Calderwood, vol. i. p. 438. 

4 Chalmers' Sir D. Lindsay, vol. i. p. 42. Keith, vol. i. p. 156. 


The reforming party now proceeded to those acts of violence, which led to the destruc- 
tion of nearly all the finest ecclesiastical buildings throughout Scotland. The Queen 
Regent, on learning of their proceedings at Perth and elsewhere, wrote to the Provost and 
Magistrates of Edinburgh, requiring them to defend the town, and not suffer the Earl of 
Argyle and the Congregation to enter offering the aid of her French troops for their 
defence. But this the Magistrates declined, declaring that the entire populace were 
prepared to favour that party, and could not be restrained by them. Upon receiving this 
reply, the Regent thereupon withdrew with her French guard from Holyrood Abbey, and 
retreated towards Dunbar. 

The Magistrates, though unable to resist this popular movement, exerted themselves to 
the utmost to restrain its violence. They sent a deputation to the leaders of the reforming 
party, entreating them to spare both their churches and religious houses, the former to be 
continued in use as places of Protestant worship, and the latter as seminaries of learning. 
They also placed a guard of sixty men for the protection of St Giles's Church, and, as a 
further security, removed the carved stalls of the choir within the safer shelter of the 
Tolbooth 5 1 and such was the zeal they displayed, that the Regent afterwards wrote them 
a letter of thanks for their services. Yet their efforts were only attended with very partial 
success. Upon the first rumour of the approach of the Earl of Argyle, the populace 
attacked both the monasteries of the Black and Grey Friars, destroying everything they 
contained, and leaving nothing but the bare walls standing. 2 

When the Earl of Argyle entered the town with his followers, they immediately pro- 
ceeded to the work of purification, as it was styled. Trinity College Church, and the 
prebendal buildings attached to it, were assailed, and some parts of them utterly destroyed ; 
and both St Giles's Church, and St Mary's, or the Kirk of Field, were visited, their altars 
thrown down, and the images destroyed and burnt. They visited Holyrood Abbey, over- 
throwing the altars, and otherwise defacing the church, and removed also from thence 
the coining irons of the Mint, compelling the treasurer to deliver up to them a considerable 
sum of money in his hands. 3 

The Regent finding herself unable to resist this formidable party by force, entered into 
negotiations with them, for the purpose of gaining time, while they, on the other hand, 
corresponded with Queen Elizabeth and besought her aid ; but the English Queen was too 
politic to commit herself by openly countenancing a fraction so recently sprung up, and 
contented herself with evasive answers to their request, and many of their adherents 
meanwhile falling away, they were compelled to retreat as hastily from the town as they 
had entered, on the sudden return of the Regent from Dunbar. 

Commissioners from both parties met, and a mutual accommodation was agreed on 
between them, and signed by the Earl of Arran and Monsieur d'Oysel, on the 25th of 
July, at Leith Links, and immediately thereafter the Queen Regent returned and took up 
her residence in Holyrood Palace. 

One of the chief clauses in this agreement required the dismissal of the French troops ; 
and with a special view to the enforcement of this, an interview took place on the following 
day between the Earls of Arran and Huntly, and some of the leaders of the Congregation, 

1 Maitland, p. 16. 2 Calderwood, vol. i. p. 475. 3 Bishop Leslie, p. 275. 


including the Earls of Argyle and Glencaim, and the Lord James Stewart. The place of 
meeting was the Quarry Holes, or as it is not inappropriately styled by the writers of the 
time, the Quarrel Holes ; a famous place of meeting for duels and private rencontres, at 
the east end of the Gal ton Hill, in the immediate neighbourhood of the Palace of Holy- 
rood and there the two first-named Earls engaged, that should the Regent fail to fulfil 
the conditions of agreement, and especially that of the dismissal of the French troops, they 
would willingly join forces with them to enforce their fulfilment. 1 

Although the main body of the reformers had withdrawn from 
Edinburgh, some of the leaders continued to reside there, and the 
people refused to yield up St Giles's Church to be again used for 
the service of the mass, although the Regent sought, by various 
means, to recover it. She had already received notice of further 
assistance coming from France, and did not choose to provoke a 
quarrel till thus reinforced. As one means of driving them from 
the church, the French soldiers made it a place of promenade during 
the time of service, to the great disturbance of the Congregation. But though the preacher, 
Mr Willocks, denounced them in no measured terms from the pulpit, and publicly prayed 
God to rid them of such locusts, the people prudently avoided an open rupture, " except 
that a horned cap was taken off a proud priest's head, and cut in four quarters, because 
he said he would wear it in spite of the Congregation." 

In the month of September 1559, Sir Ralph Sadler arrived at Berwick from Queen 
Elizabeth, and entered into secret negotiations with the reformers, paying over to them, 
for their immediate use, the sum of two thousand pounds, with the promise of further 
pecuniary assistance, for the purpose of expelling the French from Scotland, so that it 
could be managed with such secrecy as not to interfere with the public treaties between 
the two nations. 

The preparations for war were now diligently pursued by both parties. The Queen had 
already received a reinforcement of a thousand French troops, who disembarked at Leith 
in the end of August, and with their aid she immediately proceeded to enlarge and com- 
plete the fortifications of that port, while she renewed her entreaties to the French Court 
for further aid. 

Shortly after, the Bishop of Amiens arrived at Edinburgh, as legate from the Pope, and 
earnestly laboured to reconcile the reformers to the Church ; but any little influence he 
might possibly have had, was destroyed in their eyes by the discovery that he had arrived 
in company with a second body of French auxiliaries. 

The Congregation at length marched to Edinburgh, towards the end of October, with 
a force amounting to twelve thousand men, resolved to dislodge the French garrison from 
Leith ; and the same day the Regent hastily retreated from Holyrood Palace, and took up 
her residence within the protection of the fortifications at Leith. 

The Congregation proceeded in the most systematic manner, committees were chosen 
for the direction of civil and religious affairs, and a letter was immediately addressed to the 

1 Bishop Keith, vol. 1. p. 224. Calderwood, vol. i. p. 502. 

VIGNETTE Corbel from the old south door of St Giles's Church. 


Queen Regent, demanding the dismissal of all foreigners and men-at-arms from the town 
of Leith. To this she replied, with dignity, that their letter appeared rather as coming 
from a prince to his subjects, than the reverse, and referred them for further answer to 
the Lord Lion Herald, by whom the letter was sent. l 

The Queen's messenger found the Lords of the Congregation assembled in the Tolbooth, 
seriously debating whether she should be deposed from the Regency, as had been proposed 
to them by Lord Ruthven. The reformed preachers joined in the discussion, freely de- 
nouncing her as an obstinate idolatress, and a message was at length returned by the 
Lord Lion, intimating to her that they suspended her, in the name of their Sovereign, 
from the office of Regent. 

In furtherance of their plans, a herald was sent to summon all French and native 
soldiers to depart from Leith within twelve hours, and little regard being paid to their 
orders, immediate preparations were made for the assault. Scaling ladders were hastily 
prepared in the aisles of St Giles's Church, which so offended the preachers, as an act of 
sacrilege, that they weakly prognosticated failure to the whole enterprise. 

The prophecy wrought its own fulfilment, for the troops were so intimidated thereby, 
that, upon marching to the attack, they forsook their artillery on the first sally that 
the enemy made, and retreated so precipitately to Edinburgh, that the foot were trampled 
down by the horsemen in their eagerness to enter the city gates. 

The French pursued them to the middle of the Canongate and up Leith Wynd, slay- 
ing indiscriminately women and children as well as men, and plundering the houses 
exposed to their fury. The Queen Regent watched them from the ramparts, and welcomed 
them with ill-judged mirth, as they returned victorious, laden with the homely booty they 
had acquired in the action. " One brought a kirtle, another a petticoate, the third a pott, 
or panne." Such was the panic at this period among the undisciplined rabble, who formed 
the main force of the Congregation, that their flight was with difficulty restrained on their 
reaching the West Port, at the opposite extremity of the city. 2 

A second contest, arising from an attempt by the French troops to intercept a convoy 
carrying provisions into Edinburgh, was equally unfortunate. The forces of the Congre- 
gation, headed by the Lord James, got entangled in a morass at Restalrig. Haliburton, 
Provost of Dundee, one of the best of their leaders, fell in the action ; and though they 
retreated at length with small loss, they were so completely disheartened, that they pre- 
cipitately deserted the town that same night. 

The Regent immediately returned to the Capital ; all who were in any way implicated 
in the reforming movements were compelled to flee, and the best houses in the town were 
conferred on her French soldiers as a reward for their services. 

Each party again turned for security to foreign aid. Towards the close of the year 
both leaders were anxiously watching for the first appearance of their allies' fleets. The 
French commander at length hailed with delight the appearance of several large vessels 
bearing up the Forth, which he at once decided to be the promised French fleet ; nor was 
he disabused of his error, till he beheld his own victualling transports seized by them, and 
the English flag hoisted in their rigging. 

In the beginning of the following year, 1560, the Lords of the Congregation united 

1 Keith, vol. i. p. 230. Calderwood, vol i. p. 550. Knox, p. 195-7. 


their forces with the English, for the purpose of expelling the French garrison from Leith. 
The Council of Edinburgh manifested their sympathy by contributing the sum of sixteen 
hundred pounds Scots to maintain four hundred men engaged in their service for one 
month, for the reduction of that town. 1 

The English force landed, and took up their station around Restalrig Church, casting 
up trenches and securing themselves from the danger of surprise. 2 The forces of the Con- 
gregation had now acquired both experience and discipline, and with the aid of such 
auxiliaries, the tables were speedily turned. 

The French troops began the attack by a sudden sally on the camp at Restalrig, by 
which the English auxiliaries were taken at a disadvantage ; but they speedily rallied, and 
chased them to the walls of Leith, killing above three hundred, though with a still greater 
loss to themselves. In order more closely to press the siege, they removed their camp, a 
few days after, to Pilrig, a rising ground still known by that name, lying directly between 
Edinburgh and Leith. 3 

The united forces continued to press the siege at Leith. Early in May, a general 
assault was made, but the scaling ladders were discovered to be too short when applied 
to the walls, and the besiegers were driven back with great slaughter. 

The ordnance of the French garrison were mounted along the walls, and on every 
available point within the town of Leith. A battery that was erected on the tower of the 
preceptory of St Anthony proved particularly annoying and destructive to the besiegers ; 
and as they were unable, from their distance, to produce any effect on it, they advanced 
their cannon to the Links of Leith, where they threw up mounds of earth, and erected a 
battery of eight guns. With these they kept up so constant and destructive a firing, that, 
in a few days, they not only dismounted the ordnance placed by the French in the steeple, 
but greatly injured it and the adjoining buildings. 4 

On the 14th of April, being Easter Sunday, a constant firing was kept up by the 
assailants, particularly at St Mary's Church, where the people were assembled for divine 
service, so that a bullet was shot through the great east window, passing right over the 
altar, during the celebration of high mass, and just before the elevation of the host. 

Two of the mounds thrown up by the besiegers on this occasion still remain on Leith 
Links, and almost directly opposite the east end of the church. One of them is on the 
extreme east side of the Links ; the other, which lies considerably nearer the High School, 
is locally designated the Giant's Brae. As there existed, till very recently, no houses 
between the church and these open downs on which the batteries were erected, it must 
have lain completely exposed to the fire of the besiegers. Some obscurity exists in the 
narratives of the different historians of this period, as to which church is spoken of. 
Bishop Leslie mentions their having " shot many great schottis of cannonis and gret 
ordinances at the parrishe kirk of Leyth and Sanct Anthoneis steple." St Mary's Church 
was not converted into the parish church, until the destruction, at a later period, of that 
of Restalrig, to which Leith was parochially joined ; yet its position, agreeing so well with 
the accounts of the siege, leaves no doubt that it is intended by this designation. As all 
the historians, however, unite in speaking of St Anthony's steeple as that whereon the 
French garrison had erected their ordnance, there seems no reason to question that it was 

1 Maitland, p. 19. 2 Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 57. 3 Ibid, p. 58. 4 Bishop Leslie, p. 285. 


the tower of the preceptory, and not that of the present parish church, as the talented 
editor of Keith's History suggests. 1 No vestige, indeed, of St Anthony's steeple has 
existed for centuries, and it is prohable that it was totally destroyed at this period. The 
tower of St Mary's, which was taken down in 1836, was evidently an erection of a much 
later date, and too small to have admitted of a hattery being mounted upon it. 

On the 22d of April, Monluc, bishop of Valence, arrived as a commissioner from the 
Court of France, and attempted to mediate between the Regent and the Lords of the 
Congregation. He entered into communication with the reformers and their allies, and 
spent two days in the English camp ; he thereafter passed to the Queen llegent in Edin- 
burgh Castle, but all attempts at reconciliation proved ineffectual, as the assailants would 
accept of no other terms than the demolition of the fortifications of Leith, and the dis- 
missal of all the French troops from Scotland. 

Meanwhile, the Queen Regent lay in the Castle of Edinburgh, suffering alike from 
failing health and anxiety of mind. Her life was now drawing to a close, and she repeatedly 
sought to bring about a reconciliation between the contending parties, that she might, if 
possible, resign the sceptre to her daughter free from the terrible rivalry and contentions 
which had embittered the whole period of her Regency ; but all attempts at compromise 
proved in vain, and her French advisers prevented her closing with the sole proposal on 
which the leaders of the Congregation at length agreed to acknowledge her authority 
namely, that all foreign troops should immediately quit the realm. 

When the Queen Regent found her end approaching, she requested an interview with 
the Lords of the Congregation. The Duke of Chatelherault, the Earls of Argyle, Maris- 
chal, and G-lencairn, with the Lord James, immediately repaired to the Castle, where they 
were received by the dying Queen with such humility and unfeigned kindness as deeply 
movedtthem. She extended her hand to each of them, beseeching their forgiveness with 
tears, whereinsoever she had offended them. She expressed deep grief that matters should 
ever have come to such extremities, ascribing it to the influence of foreign counsels, which 
had compelled her to act contrary to her own inclinations. 

The scene was so affecting that all present were moved to tears. At the request of the 
barons, she received a visit from John Willock, with whom she conversed for a consider- 
able time. He besought her to seek mercy alone through the death of Christ, urging her 
at the same time to acknowledge the mass as a relic of idolatry. She assured him that 
she looked for salvation in no other way than through the death of her Saviour ; and 
without replying to his further exhortation, she bade him farewell. 2 

The Queen Regent died on the following day, the 10th of June 1560. The preachers 
refused to permit her to be buried according to the rites of the Catholic Church. Her body 
was accordingly placed in a lead coffin, and kept in the Castle till the 9th of October, 
when it was transported to France, and buried in the Benedictine monastery at Rheims, of 
which her own sister was then Abbess. 

Both parties were now equally inclined to a peace ; and accordingly, within a very short 
time after the death of the Regent, Cecil, the able minister of Queen Elizabeth, repaired to 
Edinburgh, accompanied by Sir Nicholas Wotton. Here they were met by the Bishops of 

1 Keith, 1844, Spottiswood Soc., vol. i. p. 271. Wodrow Miscel. vol. i. p. 84. 
1 Calderwood, vol. i. p. 589. Keith, rol. i. p. 280. 


Valence and Amieus, and other French commissioners, and a treaty was formally con- 
cluded and signed, by which, through the diplomatic skill of Cecil, the objects aimed at 
by Queen Elizabeth, as well as the real interests of the Congregation, were completely 
secured, notwithstanding the feeble remonstrances of the French commissioners. A sepa- 
rate convention, agreed to at the same time, bound the French garrison to remove all the 
artillery from the ramparts of Leith, completely to demolish its fortifications, and 
immediately thereafter to embark for France. 

On the 19th of July, the third day after the embarkation of the French troops at 
Leith, and the departure of the English forces on their march homeward, a solemn public 
thanksgiving was held by the reforming nobles, and the great body of the Congregation, 
in St Giles's Church ; and thereafter the preachers were appointed to some of the chief 
boroughs of the kingdom, Knox being confirmed in the chief charge at Edinburgh. 

A Parliament assembled in Edinburgh on the 1st of August, the proceedings of whicli 
were opened with great solemnity. The lesser barons, from their interest in the progress of 
the reformed doctrines, claimed the privilege, which they had long ceased to use, of sitting 
and voting in the Assembly of the Three Estates. This led to the accession of nearly a 
hundred votes, nearly all of them adhering to the Protestant party. After the discussion 
of some preliminary questions, particularly as to the authority by which the Parliament 
was summoned, Maitland was appointed their " harangue maker," or speaker, and they 
proceeded to choose the Lords of the Articles. Great complaint was made as to the choice 
falling entirely on those well affected to the new religion, particularly among the Lords 
Spiritual, some of whose representatives were mere laymen ; but altogether without effect 
" This being done," says Randolph, in an interesting letter to Cecil, " the Lords departed, 
and accompanied the Duke as far as the Bow, whicli is the gate going out of the High 
Street, and many down unto the Palace where he lieth ; the town all in armour, the 

trumpets sounding, and all other kinds of music such as they have The Lords 

of the Articles sat from henceforth in Holyrood House, except that at such times as upon 
matter of importance the whole Lords assembled themselves again, as they did this day, in 
the Parliament House." 1 

The Parliament immediately proceeded with the work of reformation, a Confession of 
Faith was drawn up, and approved of by acclamation, embodying a summary of Christian 
doctrine in accordance with the views of the majority, and this was seconded by a series of 
acts rendering all who refused to subscribe to its tenets liable to confiscation, banishment, 
and even death. Ambassadors were despatched to England with proposals of marriage 
between the Earl of Arran, eldest son to the Duke of Chatelherault, and Queen Elizabeth, 
while Sir James Saudilands, grand prior of the knights of St John of Jerusalem, was sent 
to France to carry an account of their proceedings to the Queen. 

The latter met with a very cool reception ; he was, however, entrusted with a reply from 
the Scottish Queen, which, though it refused to recognise the assembly by which he was 
sent as a Parliament, was yet couched in conciliatory terms, and intimated her intention 
to despatch commissioners immediately, to convene a legal Parliament ; but ere Sir James 
arrived at Edinburgh, the news reached him of the death of the young King, her royal con- 
sort, anwhich avent caused the utmost rejoicing among the party of the Congregation. 

1 MS. Letter St P. Off., 9th August 1560, Tytler. 


The Three Estates immediately assembled at Edinburgh on the 16th of January, and 
despatched the Lord James, the chief leader of the Congregation, as ambassador to the 
Scottish Queen, to invite her return to her own dominions. Ere his departure on this 
mission, four commissioners arrived from the Queen, with assurances of her intention of 
speedily returning home, and meanwhile bearing a commission to certain of the leading 
men of Scotland, authorising them to summon a Parliament. 

About this time a serious riot occurred in Edinburgh. " That the work of reformation 
might not be retarded, Sanderson, deacon of the fleshers, or butchers, was, by the Council, 
ordered to be carted for adultery." 1 This the trades resented, as a general insult to their 
body, and assembling in a tumultuous manner, they broke open the prison and released 
him from durance. The magistrates, on this, applied to the Privy Council for aid against 
the rioters a number of the craftsmen were committed prisoners to the Castle, and the 
corporations so intimidated, that they made humble supplication to the Council for release 
of their brethren, promising all obedience and submission to the magistrates in time 
coining. Upon this the craftsmen were released, and the offending deacon, it may be pre- 
sumed, duly carted according to order. 

The magistrates the same year removed the Corn Market, from the corner of Marlin's 
Wynd, Cowgate (where Blair Street now is), to the east end of the Grassmarket, where 
it continued to be held till the present century. At the same time, they forbade the 
continuance of a practice that then prevailed of holding public markets on the Sundays, 
and keeping open shops and taverns during divine service, under the pain of corporal 
punishment. 2 

The enforcement of some of the more stringent enactments that had been introduced 
for the reformation rf manners, gave rise to another and more serious tumult. Not- 
withstanding the acts already referred to, the people still attempted the revival of some 
of their ancient games. On the 21st of June, a number of the craftsmen and apprentices 
united together for the purpose of playing Kobin Hood " which enormity was of many 
years left off, and condemned by statute." The magistrates interfered, and took from 
them some weapons and an ensign. This the populace keenly resented, the city gates 
were held by the mob, and numerous acts of violence committed. The magistrates, to 
appease them, restored the banner and other spoils; but, watching a favourable 
opportunity, they seized on James Gillon, a shoemaker, one of the ringleaders of the mob, 
tried him on the charge of stealing ten crowns, and condemned him to be hanged. The 
deacons of the crafts used all their influence with the magistrates to obtain his pardon, 
but in vain. A deputation from the same body waited on John Knox, and besought his 
influence on behalf of the offender, but he refused " to be a patron to their impiety." A 
gallows was erected below the Cross, and all preparations completed for the execution, 
when the rioters resumed their weapons, broke down the gallows, and put the magistrates 
to flight ; pursuing them till they took refuge in a writer's booth. There they were held 
captive, while the mob proceeded to assault the Tolbooth within sight of them. They 
broke in the door with sledge hammers, and set Gillon and all the other prisoners at 
liberty. On their departvire, the magistrates took refuge in the Tolbooth, and thence 
fired on them on their return from an attempt to pass out by the Nether Bow Port ; 

1 Council Register, Nov. 22d, 1560. Maitland, p. 20. a Ibid. 


meanwhile, the deacons of the corporations were summoned to the rescue of the Provost 
and Bailies, " but they past to their four-hour's penny, or afternoon's pint," returning for 
answer, that since they will be magistrates alone, let them rule alone ! 

The Provost was compelled at last to seek the mediation of the Governor of the 
Castle, but the rioters did not disperse, nor permit the magistrates to escape from durance, 
until after nine o'clock at night, when a public proclamation was made at the Cross, 
engaging that they should not pursue any one for that day's work. 1 

On the 19th of August 1561, Queen Mary landed at Leith, where she was received 
by the Lord James, her natural brother, and many of the chief nobility ; and conveyed 
in state to the Abbey of Holyrood House. On the news of her arrival, the nobility and 
leaders, without distinction of party, crowded to Edinburgh, to congratulate her on her 
return to her nntive land, and tender their homage and service, while the people 
testified their pleasure by bonfires and music, and other popular demonstrations of 

Magnificent entertainments were provided by the town of Edinburgh, as well as by 
the chief nobility, and everything was done on her arrival to assure her of the perfect 
loyalty and affection of her subjects ; yet, if we may believe Brantome, an eye-witness, the 
Queen could not help contrasting, with a sigh, the inferiority of the national displays on 
her arrival, when contrasted with the gorgeous pageants to which she had been accustomed 
at the Court of France. 2 

Contrary to what had been anticipated, the Queen received the Lord James into special 
favour, and admitted him to the chief control in all public affairs ; but notwithstanding 
the countenance shown to him, and other leaders of the Congregation, the religious 
differences speedily led to dissensions between the Queen and the people. All toleration 
had been denied to those who still adhered to the old faith, and both priests and laymen 
were strictly enjoined by the magistrates of Edinburgh to attend the services of the 
Protestant Churches. Some of them, instead of joining in the worship, had availed 
themselves of this compulsory attendance to unsettle the faith of recent converts, on 
which account they were ordered by proclamation to depart from the city within 
forty-eight hours. The Queen remonstrated without effect, and the proclamation was 
renewed with increased rigour; whereupon she addressed a letter to the Council and 
community of Edinburgh, commanding them to assemble in the Tolbooth, and 
choose other magistrates in their stead. The Council obeyed her commands, without 
waiting to learn whom she would recommend for their successors, a procedure 
which excited her indignation little less than the contempt of the magistrates she 
had deposed. 3 

Shortly after this, Knox visited the Queen at Holyrood, and had a long interview 
with her. during which he moved her to tears by the vehemence of his exhortations. 
The Lord James and other two courtiers were present, but they withdrew sufficiently 
to permit of perfect privacy in this first conference between the Eeformer and Queen 
Mary. The interview was long, and the Queen sufficiently patient under his very plain 
spoken rebukes and exhortations, but they parted in the same mind as they had met; 

1 Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 284, 5. Kuox's History of the Reformation, 4to, p. 253, where the culprit is styled Balon 
' Brautome, vol. ii. p. 123. Tytler, vol. vi. Council Register, Oct. 8, 1561. Maitland, p. 21. 


each of them frankly disclosing opinions, involving the causes of the collision that 
speedily followed. 

The Queen soon after made a progress to the north, and on her return to Edinburgh, 
preparations were made on a most magnificent scale for welcoming her. On the 3d of 
September, she dined in the Castle, and thereafter made her public entry. Fifty black 
slaves, magnificently apparelled, received her at the west gate of the city ; twelve of the 
chief citizens, dressed in black velvet gowns, with coats and doublets of crimson satin, 
bore a canopy, under which she rode in state, and immediately on her entry, a lovely boy 
descended from a globe, and addressing her in congratulatory verses, at which she was 
seen to smile, presented her with the keys of the city, and a Bible and Psalter. The most 
costly arrangements were made for her reception ; all the citizens were required to appear 
in gowns of fine French satin and coats of velvet, and the young men to devise for 
themselves some befitting habiliments of taffeta, or other silk, to convey the Court in 
triumph. A public banquet was given to the Queen and the noble strangers by whom 
she was accompanied ; and most ingenious masks and pageants provided for her entertain- 
ment, peculiarly characteristic of the times. A mystery was performed, in which Korah, 
Dathan, and Abiram were destroyed, while offering strange fire upon the altar, as a 
warning of the vengeance of God upon idolaters. A still more significant interlude had 
been provided for her Majesty's benefit, in which a priest was to have been burnt at the 
altar while elevating the host; but the Earl of Huutly persuaded them, with some 
difficulty, to content themselves with the first allegory. 

All the public way through which the procession had to pass, was adorned with splendid 
hangings and devices, and the Nether Bow Port, where the Queen bade adieu to her enter- 
tainers, was decorated for the occasion in the most costly fashion. 1 

The ancient Tolbooth, or " Pretorium," as it is styled in the early Acts of the Scottish 
Parliaments, had fallen, at this time, into a very decayed and ruinous condition. The 
Qiieen addressed a letter to the Town Council, bearing date the 6th of February 1561? 
charging the Provost, Bailies, and Council to take it down with all possible diligence, and 
provide, meanwhile, sufficient accommodation elsewhere for the Lords of the Session and 
others ministering justice. 

The royal letter expresses a most affectionate dread for " the skayth and great slaughter" 
that may happen to the lieges by the downfall of the building, if not speedily prevented ; 
but no apology seems to have been thought necessary for the very arbitrary demand 
that the city of Edinburgh should erect, at its own charge, parliament and court-houses 
for the whole kingdom. The proceedings of the Town Council, for many months after 
this, are replete with allusions to the many difficulties they had to encounter in raising 
money and providing materials for the new building. The master of the works is 
ordered " gyf the tymmer of the Auld Tolbuith will serve for the wark of the New 
Tolbuith, to tak the same as ma serve." In consequence of the proceedings, in 
obedience to this order, the renters of the neighbouring booths appear with no very gentle 
remonstrance against him, complaining " that presentlie the maister of wark was takand 
away the jeists above their buthis, quhilk jeists had been bocht be thame, and laid lhair, 
and wes thair awin propir guddis." The magistrates seem to have pacified them with a 

1 Council Kegister, 3d Sept. 1561. Keith, vol. ii. p. 81, 82. Kuox's Hist., p. 269. Merries' Mem., p. 56. 


promise of replacing, at some indefinite period, " als mony als gud jeistis " as had been 
taken away. 1 

Materials and money continued equally difficult to be obtained ; the master of the 
work had again to have recourse for stones to the old building, although the magistrates 
were anxious, if possible, to preserve it. On the 5th of March 1562, an order appears for 
taking the stones of the chapel in the Nether Kirk-yard. This supplies the date of the 
utter demolition of Holyrood Chapel, as it was styled, which had most probably been 
spoiled and broken down during the tumults of 1559. It stood between the present 
Parliament House and the Cowgate; and there, on the 12th of August 1528, Walter 
Chepmau founded a chaplainry at the altar of Jesus Christ crucified, and endowed it with 
his tenement in the Cowgate. 2 

In the month of April, the Council are threatened with the entire removal of the Courts 
to St Andrews, for want of a place of meeting in Edinburgh. This is followed by forced 
taxation, borrowing money on the town mills, threats from the builder to give up the 
work, " becaiise he had oft and diverse tymes requyrit money, and could get nane," and 
the like, for some years following, until the magistrates contrived, at length, by some 
means or other, to complete the new building to the satisfaction of all parties. During 
this interval, the Town Council held their own meetings in the Holy-Blood Aisle in St 
Giles's Church, until apartments were provided for them, in the New Tolbooth, which 
served alike for the meetings of the Parliament, the Court of Session, and the Magistrates 
and Council of the burgh. 

The New Tolbooth, thus erected with so much difficulty, was not the famous Heart 
of Midlothian, but a more modern building attached to the south-west corner of 
St Giles's Church, part of the site of which is now occupied by the lobby of the Signet 

In February 1561, the Lord James, newly created Earl of Mar, was publicly married 
to Lady Agnes Keith, daughter of the Earl Marischal, in St Giles's Church. They 
received an admonition "to behave themselves moderately in all things;" but this did not 
prevent the event being celebrated with such display as gave great offence to the preachers. 
A magnificent banquet was given on the occasion, with pageants and masquerades, which 
the Queen honoured with her presence. Randolph, the ambassador of Queen Elizabeth, 
was also a guest, and thus writes of it to Cecil : "At this notable marriage, upon Shrove 
Tuesday, at night, sitting among the Lords at supper, in sight of the Queen, she drank 
unto the Queen's Majesty, and sent me the cup of gold, which weigheth eighteen or twenty 
ounces." The preachers denounced, with vehemence, the revels and costly banquets on 
this occasion, inveighing with peculiar energy against the masking, a practice, as it would 
seem, till then unknown in Scotland. 3 

The reformation of religion continued to be pursued with the utmost zeal. The Queen 
still retained the service of the mass in her own private chapel, to the great offence of the 
preachers ; but they had succeeded in entirely banishing it from the churches. The arms 
and burgh seal of Edinburgh, previous to this period, contained a representation of the 
patron saint, St Giles, with his hind ; but by an act of the Town Council, dated 24th 

1 Council Register, 10th Feb. 1561, &c. Maitland, p. 21, 22. Chambers's Minor Antiquities, p. 141-9. 
3 Council Register, Maitland, p. 183. 3 Knox's Hist., p. 276. Tytler, vol. vi. p. 301. 



June 1562, the idol was ordered to be cut out of the town's standard, and a thistle 
to be substituted in its place, though the 
saint's fawn has been since allowed to 
appear in his stead. 

During this year the Council made 
application to the Queen to grant them the 
grounds belonging to the Black Friars, 
lying to the south, between the Cowgate 
and the town wall, to build an hospital 
thereon for the poor; and also the Kirk- 
of-Field, with all the adjoining buildings 
and ground, to erect there a public school, 
together with their revenues for endowing 
the same. They also, at the same time, 
besought her to grant them the yards and 
site of the Greyfriars' monastery, " being 
somewhat distant from the town," for the 
purpose of a public burial-place. The Queen, in reply, granted the last request, appoint- 
ing the Greyfriars' Yard to be devoted to the use of the town for the specified purpose ; 
and for the rest, she engaged, so soon as sufficient funds were secured for building the 
hospital and school, that she would provide a convenient site for them. The whole, 
however, were at length made over to the magistrates, in the year 1566, for the purposes 

Great excitement was occasioned in Edinburgh at this time, by an act of violence 
perpetrated by the Earl of Both well, with the aid of the Marquis D'Elboeuf and Lord 
John Coldingham. They broke open the doors of Cuthbert Eamsay's house, in St Mary's 
Wynd, during the night, and made violent entry in search for his daughter-in-law, Alison 
Craig, with whom the Earl of Arran was believed to be enamoured. A strong remon- 
strance was presented to the Queen on this occasion, beseeching her to bring the 
perpetrators to punishment ; but the matter was hushed up, with promises of amendment. 
Emboldened by their impunity, Bothwell and his accomplices proceeded to further violence. 
They assembled in the public streets during the night, with many of their friends. Gavin 
Hamilton, abbot of Kilwinning, who had joined the reforming party, resolved to check 
them in their violent proceedings. He accordingly armed his servants and retainers and 
sallied out to oppose them, and a serious affray took place between the Cross and the 
Troue ; shot and bolts flew in every direction ; the burghers were mustered by the ringing 
of the town bells, and rival leaders were sallying out to the assistance of their friends, 
when the Earls of Murray and Huntly, who were then residing in the Abbey, mustered 
their adherents at the Queen's request, and put a stop to the tumult. Bothwell afterwards 
successfully employed the mediation of Knox, to procure a reconciliation with Gavin 
Hamilton, the Earl of Arran, and others of his antagonists. 1 

The Parliament met at Edinburgh on the 26th of May 1563. It was the first time that 

1 Knox's Hist., pp. 279, 280. Keith, vol. ii. p. 130. 
VIQNBITE St Giles from the Common Seal of the City of Edinburgh, 1565. 


Queen Mary had ever been present at the Assembly of the Estates, and its proceedings 
were conducted with unusual pomp. The Queen rode in procession to the Tolbooth, in 
robes of state, with the crown, sceptre, and sword borne before her, escorted by a bril- 
liant cavalcade, and was hailed with loyal greetings as she passed along the High Street 
The hall was crowded with the nobles and other members, in their most costly habili- 
ments, and glittered with the gay trappings of the royal household, and the splendour 
and beauty of the Court, that surrounded the throne. The Queen opened the proceedings 
with an address which won the favour of her audience, no less than her extreme beauty, 
so that the people were heard to exclaim, " God save that sweet face ! Did ever orator 
speak so sweetly ? " On three succeeding days she rode thus to the Tolbooth, greatly to 
the dissatisfaction of the preachers, who spoke boldly " against the superfluities of their 
clothes," and at length presented articles for regulating apparel and reforming other 
similar enormities. 1 

It may be mentioned, as characteristic of the times, that the Town Council, " for the 
satisfaction of many devout citizens, and to prevent the crime of fornication," enacted, 
about the same period, that all guilty of this crime should be ducked in a certain part 
of the North Loch, then an impure pond of stagnant water, and a pillar was erected 
there for the more efficient execution of such sentences. The punishment, however, was 
not always reserved for such carnal offenders, but was also enforced against the most 
zealous adherents of the ancient faith. In the month of August, a serious disturbance 
occurred, in consequence of the Queen's domestics at Holyrood being found, during her 
absence at Stirling, attending mass at the chapel there. Patrick Cranston, " a zealous 
brother," as Knox styles him, entered the chapel, and finding the altar covered, and 
a priest ready to celebrate mass, he demanded of them how they dared thus openly to 
break the laws of the laud ? The magistrates were summoned, and peace restored with 

A much more serious display of popular intolerance was exhibited in the year 1505. 
The period appointed by the ministers of the Congregation for the celebration of the com- 
munion chanced to fall at the season of Easter, and as it seems to have been at all times 
regarded as a peculiar aggravation of the crime of " massing," when it was done at the 
same time as they were administering the sacrament, the indignation of the reformers 
was greatly excited by the customary services of the Roman Catholics at this period. 
A party of them, accordingly, headed by one of the bailies, seized on Sir James Tarbat, a 
Catholic priest, as he was riding home, after officiating at the altar. He was imprisoned 
in the Tolbooth, along with several of his assistants ; but the populace, not content to 
abide the course of law, brought him forth, clothed in his sacerdotal garments, and with 
the chalice secured in his hand. He was placed on the pillory at the Market Cross, and 
exposed for an hour to the pelting of the rude rabble ; the boys serving him, according to 
Knox, with his Easter eggs. He was brought to trial with his assistants on the following 
day, and convicted of having celebrated mass, contrary to law. He was again exposed for 
four hours on the pillory, under the charge of the common hangman, and so rudely 
treated that he was reported to be dead. 

The Queen, justly exasperated at this cruel and insulting proceeding, sent to her friends 

1 Knox'a Hist., p. 295. Keith, vol. ii. p. 199. 


throughout the country, requiring them to inarch with their adherents to Edinburgh, to 
reduce its citizens to a sense of duty; but the magistrates having sent a humble repre- 
sentation to her of their loyalty and desire to stay the popular violence, she contented 
herself with requiring the immediate liberation of the prisoners. The Queen, however, 
shortly after ordered the Provost to be degraded from his office, and another to be 
elected in his stead. 1 

On the 28th of July 1565, Darnley was proclaimed King at the Market Cross of Edin- 
burgh. The banns had already been published in the usual form in the Canongate Kirk,' J 
and on the following day, being Sunday, at six o'clock in the morning, he was married to 
the Queen, in the chapel of Holyrood House, by the Dean of Restalrig. During several 
<lays, nothing was heard at the Court but rejoicing and costly banquets, while the people 
were treated with public sports. 3 The marriage, however, excited the strongest displeasure 
of the reformers. Knox, on learning of its proposal, regarded it with especial indignation, 
and in one of his boldest and most vehement harangues, in St. Giles's Church, challenged 
the nobles and other leaders of the Congregation, for betraying the cause of God, by their 
inaction. " I see," said he, suddenly stretching out his arms, as if he would leap from 
the pulpit and arrest the passing vision, " I see before me your beleagured camp. I hear 
the tramp of the horsemen as they charged you in the streets of Edinburgh ; and most of 
all, is that dark and dolorous night now present to my eyes, in which all of you, my Lords, 
in shame and fear, left this town God forbid I should ever forget it ! " He concluded 
witlr solemn warning against the royal marriage, and the judgments it involved. Such 
was his vehemence, says Melvil, that, " he was like to ding the pulpit in blads, and flee out 
of it ! " This freedom of speech gave general offence, and Knox was summoned before 
the Queen ; he came to Court after dinner, and was brought into her cabinet by Erskine of 
Dun, one of the superintendents of the kirk ; but the presence of royalty was no restraint. 
She wept as she listened to his bold harangues ; and he left her at length, as she yielded 
anew to a passionate flood of tears. As he passed from the outer chamber, he paused in 
the midst of a gay circle of the ladies of the royal household, in their gorgeous apparel, 
and addressed them in a grave style of banter on the pity that the silly soul could not 
carry all these fine garnishings with it to heaven ! Queen Mary dried her tears, and took 
no further notice of this interview, but Knox must have been regarded amid the gay 
haunts of royalty, at Holyrood, like the skull that checked the merriment of au old 
Egyptian feast. 

The Queen's marriage to Darnley was indeed fatal to her future happiness. He was 
fully three years younger than her, of royal blood, and a near heir to the Crown ; but in 
every other respect totally unworthy of her regard. He appears to have been made the 
complete tool of the designing nobles. On the 9th of March 1566, the Queen was at 
supper in her cabinet, at Holyrood House, in company with the Countess of Argyle and 
Lord Robert Stuart, her natural sister and brother, Beaton of Creich, Arthur Erskine, 
and David Rizzio, her secretary, when her husband Darnley conducted a body of armed 
assassins into his apartments in the north-west tower of the Palace, immediately below 

1 Knox's Hist., pp. 325, 326. 

8 "The Buick of the Kirk of the Canagait, July 1565;" Edin. Mag.. Oct. 1817, p. 33, apud Chalmers. 

3 Chalmers's Queen Mary, vol. i. p. 14. 4 Melvil's Diary, p. 26. Tytler, vol. vi. p. 330. 


those of the Queen, and communicating with them by a private staircase. Darnley him- 
self first ascended the stair, and, throwing back the tapestry that concealed the doorway, 
entered the small closet, still pointed out in the north-west turret, where the Queen and 
her guests were seated at supper. He threw his arm round her waist, and seated himself 
beside her at the table; when Lord Ruthven, a man of tall stature, clad in complete 
armour, and pale and ghastly from the effects of disease, burst like a frightful apparition 
into the room. 

The Queen, now far advanced in pregnancy, sprung up in terror, and commanded him 
instantly to depart ; but the torches of his accomplices already glared in the outer chamber, 
and Darnley, though he affected ignorance of the whole proceedings, sat scowling with 
looks of hate on their intended victim. The other conspirators crowded into the little 
room ; and Ruthven, drawing his dagger, attempted to lay hold of Rizzio, who sprang 
behind the Queen, and wildly besought her to save his life. 

Ker of Fawdonside, one of the conspirators, held his pistol to the Queen's breast, 
threatening her life if she gave any alarm. Darnley at length interfered, and grasped her 
in his arms ; and George Douglas, snatching Darnley's own dagger from him, struck at the 
wretched Italian over the Queen's shoulder, and plunging it in his side, left it there. He 
was then dragged through the adjoining chamber to the outer entrance, where the Earl of 
Morton and his associates rushed in and struck their daggers into his body, leaving a pool 
of blood, the marks of which, according to popular tradition, still remain on the floor, and 
are pointed out by the keepers to the credulous visitor. 

The Queen was kept a close prisoner in 

, her apartment, while her imbecile husband 

assumed the regal power, dissolved the Parlia- 
ment, and commanded the Estates immediately 
to depart from Edinburgh on pain of treason. 
The Earl of Morton, who had kept guard, 
with one hundred and sixty followers, in the 
outer court of the Palace while the assassins 
entered to complete their murderous purpose, 
was now commanded to keep the gates of 
the Palace, and let none escape ; but the chief 
actors in the deed contrived to elude the 
guards, and, leaping over a window on the 
north side of the Palace, they fled across the 
garden, and escaped by a small outhouse or 
lodge, still existing, and known by the name 
of Queen Mary's Bath. 

We have been told by the proprietor of this 
house, that in making some repairs on the roof, 
which required the removal of the slates, a rusty 
dagger was discovered sticking in one of the 
planks, and with a portion of it more deeply corroded than the rest, as though from the 

VIGNETTK Queen Mary's Bath. 



blood that had been left on its blade. This the discoverers, not unreasonably, believed to 
have remained there from the flight of the murderers of Rizzio. 

A flat stone, with some nearly obliterated carving upon it, is pointed out in the passage 
leading from the present quadrangle to the Chapel of Holyrood Palace, as covering the 
remains of Rizzio. 1 It forms a portion of the flooring of the ancient Abbey Cloisters, 
included in the modern portion of the Palace, when it was rebuilt by Charles II. 

As Sir James Melvil was passing out by the outer gate of the Palace on the following- 
morning, the Queen observed him, and throwing open the window of her apartment, she 
implored him to warn the citizens, and rescue her from the traitors' hands. On the news 
being spread, the common bell was rung, and the Provost, with some hundred armed 
citizens, rushed into the outer court of the Palace and demanded the Queen's release. 
Daruley appeared at the window in her stead, and desired them to return home, assuring 
them that he and the Queen were well and merry. The Provost sought to see the Queen 
herself, but Darnley commanded their immediate departure on his authority as King. 2 
She was deterred by the most violent threats from holding any communication with the 
chief magistrate and citizens ; and they finding all efforts vain, speedily retired. 3 

The Queen succeeded, soon after, in detaching her imbecile husband from the conspir- 
ators, and escaping from the Palace in his company at midnight. They fled together to 
Seaton, and thence to Dunbar. They returned again to the capital within five days, but the 
Queen feared again to trust herself within the bloody precincts of the Palace. She took 
up her residence in the house of a private citizen in the High Street, and from thence she 
removed, a few days afterwards, to one still nearer the Castle j in all probability the house 
in Blyth's Close, Castle Hill, traditionally pointed out as the Palace of her mother, Mary 
of Guise, the portion of which fronting the street still remains, with the inscription upon 
it, in antique iron letters, LAVS DEO. 4 

Lord Ruthven had risen from his sick-bed to perpetrate the infamous deed of Rizzio's 
murder ; he fled thereafter to Newcastle, and died there. Only two of the humbler actors 
in it suffered at this period for the crime, Thomas Scott, the sheriff-depute of Perth, for 
Ruthven, and Henry Yair, one of his retainers. The head of the former was set on the 
tower of the Palace, and that of the other on the Nether Bow Port. 

The period of the Queen's accouchement now 
drew near, and she gladly adopted the advice of 
her Council to take up her residence within the 
Castle of Edinburgh. There, in a small apart- 
ment still pointed out to visitors, James VI. 
first saw the light on the morning of the 19th 
of June 1566. The room in which the infant 
was born, in whom the rival crowns of Eliza- 
beth and Mary were afterwards united, has 
undergone little alteration since that time ; it is 
of irregular shape, and very limited dimensions, though forming part of the more ancient 

1 Chalmers's Queen Mary, vol. ii. p. 163. " Knox, p. 341. 3 The Queen's Letter, Keith, vol. ii. p. i!8. 

4 Letters of Bandolph to Cecil, Wright's " Queen Elizabeth and her Times," vol. i. p. 232. 

VIGNETTE Carved Stone over the entrance to the royal apartments, Edinburgh Caatle. 


buildings often before used as a royal residence, and in one of the apartments of which 
the Queen Regent, Mary of Guise, expired only six years previous. 

The greatest joy and triumph prevailed in Edinburgh on the announcement of the 
birth of an heir to the throne. A public thanksgiving was offered up on the following day 
in St Giles's Church; and Sir James Melvil posted with the news to the English Court r 
with such speed, that he reached London on the fourth day thereafter, and spoiled her 
Majesty's mirth for one night, at least, with the " happy news." 1 

The birth of a son to Darnley produced little change on his licentious course of life. 
By his folly he had already alienated from him the intersets and affections of every party ; 
and the conspirators, who had joined with him in the murder of Rizzio, had already 
resolved on. his destruction, when he was seized with the small-pox at Glasgow. From 
this he was removed to Edinburgh, and lodged in the mansion of the Provost or chief 
prebendary of the Collegiate Church of St Mary-in-the-Fields, as a place of good air. 
This house stood nearly on the site of the present north-west corner of Drummond Street, 
as is ascertained from Gordon's map of the city in 1647, where the ruins are indicated as 
they existed at that period : it is said to have been selected by Sir James Balfour, brother 
of the Provost, and " the most corrupt man of his age," 2 as well fitted, from its lonely 
situation, for the intended murder. 

Here the Queen frequently visited Darnley. She spent the evening of the 9th of 
February 1567 with him, and only left at eleven o'clock, along with several nobles who 
had accompanied her there, to be present at an entertainment at Holyrood House. 

The Earl of Bothwell, whose lawless ambition mainly instigated the assassination, had 
obtained a situation for one of his menials in the Queen's service, and by this means he 
was able to obtain the keys of the Provost of St Mary's house, and cause counterfeit 
impressions to be taken. 8 He had been in company with the Queen on the 10th, at a 
banquet given to her by the Bishop of Argyle, and learning that she must return to Holy- 
rood that night, he immediately arranged to complete his murderous scheme. 

Bothwell left the lodgings of the Laird of Ormiston in company with several of his own 
servants, who were his sole accomplices, shortly after nine o'clock at night. They passed 
down the Blackfriars' Wynd together, entering the gardens of the Dominican monastery by 
a gate in the enclosing wall opposite the foot of the Wynd ; and by a road nearly on the 
site of what now forms the High School Wynd, they reached the postern in the town wall 
which gave admission to the lodging of Darnley. Bothwell joined the Queen, who was 
then visiting her husband, while his accomplices were busy arranging the gunpowder in 
the room below ; and, after escorting her home to the Palace, he returned to complete his 
purpose. It may be further mentioned, as an evidence of the simple manners of the period, 
that when Bothwell's servants returned to his residence, near the Palace, after depositing 
the powder in Darnley's lodging, they saw the Queen, as one of them afterwards stated 
in evidence, on her way back to Holyrood " gangand before them with licht torches as 
they came up the Black Frier Wynd."* So that it would appear she walked quietly 
home, with her few attendants, through these closes and down the Canongate, at that late 
hour, without exciting among the citizens any notice of the presence of royalty. 

1 Keith, vol. ii. p. 434. a L aing, vol. ii. p. 296. 

s Robertson's Hist., vol. ii. p. 354. Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, vol. i. part ii. p. 493. 


A loud explosion about two o'clock in the morning, while it shook the whole town and 
startled the inhabitants from their sleep, satisfied the conspirators that their plot had 
succeeded. An arch still exists in the city wall, behind the Infirmary, described by Arnot 
as the door-way leading into the Provost's house, which was built against the wall. Its 
position, however, is further to the east than the house is shown to have stood ; and 
Malcolm Laing supposes it to have been a gun-port, connected with a projecting tower, 
which formerly existed directly opposite Roxburgh Street ; but its appearance and position 
are much more those of a doorway, and no port-hole resembling it occurs in any other 
part of the wall. In a drawing of the locality at the time of the murder, preserved in the 
State Paper Office (a fac-simile of which is engraved in Chalmers's Life of Queen Mary), 
the ruins of the Provost's house seem to extend nearly to the projecting tower, so that the 
tradition is not without some appearance of probability. 

The murder of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, proved fatal to the hapless Queen of 
Scotland. She took refuge for a time in the Castle of Edinburgh, and only left it, on 
the urgent remonstrance of her Council, who dreaded injury to her health from her " close 
and solitary life." 

On Saturday, the 12th of April, the Earl of Bothwell was arraigned in the Tolbooth, 
on the charge of the murder, but no evidence appeared against him, and he was acquitted. 
It is not our province in this history to follow out the narrative of his forcible ravishment 
of the Queen, and the fatal consequences in which she was thereby involved. On the 
15th of June 1567, she surrendered to the Earl of Morton, at Carbery Hill, near Mussel- 

It was late in the evening before the captive Queen entered Edinburgh, but she was 
recognised as she passed along the streets, and assailed with insulting cries from the rude 
populace. She was lodged in the Black Turnpike, the town house of the Provost, Sir 
Simon Preston. 1 This ancient and most interesting building stood to the west of the 
Tron Church, occupying part of the ground now left vacant, as the entrance to Hunter 
Square, and the site of the corner house. Maitland describes it as a " magnificent edifice, 
which, were it not partly defaced by a false wooden front, would appear to be the most 
sumptuous building perhaps in Edinburgh." The views that exist of it, show it to have 
been a stately and imposing pile of building, of unusual height and extent, even among 
the huge " lands " in the old High Street. At the time of its demolition, in 1788, it was 
believed to be the most ancient house in Edinburgh. 

Here Queen Mary passed the night, in a small apartment, whose window looked to the 
street ; and the first thing that met her eye on looking forth in the morning was a large 
white banner, " stented betwixt two spears," whereon was painted the murdered Darnley, 
with the words, " Judge and revenge my cause, Lord." The poor Queen exclaimed to 
the assembled multitude, " Good people, either satisfy your cruelty and hatred by taking 
away my miserable life, or release me from the hands of such inhuman tyrants." Some 
of the rude rabble again renewed their insulting cries, but the citizens displayed their 
ancient standard, the Blue Blanket, and ran to arms for her deliverance ; and had not the 
confederates removed her to Holyrood, on pretence of restoring her to liberty, she might 
probably have been safe for a time imder her burgher guards. 

1 See the VIGNETTE at the head of this Chapter. 



The confederate lords, as soon as they had got Queeii Mary safely lodged in Holyrood 
House, formed themselves into a council, and at once drew up and signed an order for her 
imprisonment in Loch Leven Castle. It was in fact only giving effect to their previous 
resolutions. The same night she was hastily conveyed from the Palace, disguised in mean 
attire, and compelled to ride a distance of thirty miles to the scene of her captivity. 

On that night the 16th of June 1567 she bade a final farewell to the Palace of 
Holyrood, and to Scotland's Crown. Her further history does not come within the 
province of our Memorials, though her memory still dwells amid these ancient scenes, 
and the stranger can never tread the ruined aisles of the Old Abbey Church, without some 
passing thought of the gifted and lovely, but most unfortunate daughter of James V. 
Mary Queen of Scots. 

V i us KTTE Tower of Old City Wall in the Vennel. 

hue , 




- ., LUi'H 

-;'J- ,-_. 


URING the long minority | 
I of James VI. that suc- 
' ceeded the forced abdication of ' 
Queen Mary, his residence was almost entirely 
at Stirling, and Edinburgh ceased to be enlivened 
with the presence of royalty, though it was still 
the scene of many of the principal events connected with the national history of the period. 
Immediately on the departure of the Queen from Holyrood, diligent search was made 
throughout the city for the murderers of Darnley. Sebastian, a French attendant of the 
royal household, and Captain William Blackadder, were seized and lodged in the Tolbooth : 
and, as appears by the Record of the Privy Council, 1 three others were shortly afterwards 
placed in the same durance on this charge. Sebastian contrived to escape, but the others 
were ordered " to be put in the irins and tormentis, 2 for furthering of the tryall" of the 
veritie ; " and although they persisted in denying all knowledge of the crime, they were 
drawn backward on a cart to the Cross, and there hanged and quartered on the 24th of 
June 1567. 3 

The Magistrates of Edinburgh had obtained from Queen Mary a ratification of their 
long-coveted superiority over the town of Leith ; but they had never been able to avail 
themselves of it to any practical end. They now took advantage of the general confusion 
o assert their claims ; and accordingly, on the 4th of July, the Provost, Bailies, and 

1 Keith, vol. ii. p. 652. * i.e., Tortured. ' Birrel's Diary, np. 10, 11. 

YIQNKTTE Holyrood ChapeL 


Deacons mustered the whole burgher force of the city, armed and equipped in warlike array, 
and marched at their head to the Links of Leith. From thence the magistrates proceeded 
to the town, and " held ane court upon the Tolbuyth stair of Leith, and created bailies, 
sergeants, clerks, and demstars, 1 and took possession thereof by virtue of their infeftment 
made by the Queen's grace to them." 2 The superiority thus established, continued to be 
maintained, often with despotic rigour, until the independence of Leith was secured by the 
Burgh Reform Bill of 1833. 

On the 22d of August, the Earl of Murray was invested with the dignity of Regent, 
and proclamation of the same made at the Cross of Edinburgh, with great magnificence 
and solemnity. In his strong hand, the sceptre was again swayed for a brief period with 
such stern rigour, as checked the turbulent factions, and restored, to a great extent, tran- 
quillity to the people. But his regency was of brief duration ; he fell by the hand of 
an assassin in the month of January 1570, and the Earl of Lennox succeeded to his 
office. He was buried in St Giles's Church, and a monument erected to his memory 
in the south transept, which remained a point of peculiar attraction in the old fabric, 
until it was most barbarously demolished, during the alterations effected on the building 
in 1829. 

The Castle, at this time, was held by Sir William Kirkaldy of Grange, who still adhered 
to the Queen's party ; and he abundantly availed himself of the unsettled state of affairs 
to strengthen his position. He had seized all provisions brought into Leith, and raised and 
trained soldiers with little interruption. On the 28th of March 1571, he took forcible 
possession of St Giles's Church, and manned the steeple to keep the citizens in awe ; 8 and 
again on the 1st of May, the Duke of Chatelherault, having entered the town with 300 
men, the men of war in the steeple, " slappit all the pendis of the kirk, 4 for keeping 
thairof aganis my Lord Regent," and immediate preparations were made for the defence 
of the town. Troops crowded into the city, and others mustered against it, the Regent 
being bent on holding a Parliament there. The Estates accordingly assembled in the 
Cauongate, without the walls, but within the liberties of the city, which extended to 
St John's Cross, and a battery was erected for their protection, upon " the Dow Craig 5 
abone the Trinity College, beside Edinburgh, to ding and seige the north-east quarter of 
the burgh." 6 

The place indicated is obviously that portion of the Calton Hill where the house of the 
governor of the jail now stands, a most commanding position for the purpose in view ; 
from this an almost constant firing was kept up on the city during the sittings of the Par- 
liament. The opposite party retaliated by erecting a battery in the Blackfriars (the old 
High School Yard), from which they greatly damaged the houses in the Canongate, while 
the Nether Bow Port was built up with stone and lime, the more effectually to exclude 
them from the usual place of meeting. 

Diligent preparations were made for the defence of the town after the Parliament had 
withdrawn. On the 6th of June, commandment was given " by the lords of the nobility 
in Edinburgh, to tir and tak down all the tymmer work of all houses in Leith Wynd and 

1 i.e., Judges or doomers, latterly hangmen. s Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 117. 

Ibid, p. 202. i.e.j Broke out loop-holes in the arched roof. 

6 Most probably from the Gaelic Du, i.e., Black Craig. Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 213. 


Sanct Mary's Wynd, hurtful to the keiping of this burghe." And, again, on the 8th, 
they caused the doors and windows of all the tenements on the west side of St Mary's 
Wynd to Le "biggit up and closit," as well as other great preparations for defence. 

On the 20th of June, three pieces of brass ordnance were mounted on St Giles's steeple, 
and the holders of it amply stored with provisions and ammunition for its defence, and all 
the walls, fosses, and ports, were again " newlie biggit and repairit ; " and within a few days 
after, the whole merchants and craftsmen remaining in the burgh, mustered to a " wappin- 
schawiug" in the Greyfriars' Churchyard, and engaged to aid and assist the Captain of the 
Castle in the service of the Queen. 1 

When all others means failed, an ingenious plot was devised for taking the Nether Bow 
Port by a stratagem, nearly similar to that by which the Castle was recovered in 1341, 2 
but the ambush was discovered by chance, and the scheme, happily for the citizens, 
defeated. Immediately thereafter, " the Lords and Captain of the Castle causit big ane 
new port at the Nether boll, within the auld port of the same, of aisler wark, in the maist 
strenthie maner ; and tuik, to big the samyu with, all the aisler stanis that Alexander 
Clerk haid gadderit of the kirk of Restalrig to big his hous with." 3 This interesting 
notation supplies the date of erection of the second Nether Bow Port, and accounts for its 
position behind the line of the city wall ; as the original gate in continuation of St Mary's 
Wynd would have to be retained and defended, while the new works were going on within. 
On the -earlier site, but, we may presume to some extent at least, with these same materials, 
the famous old " Temple Bar of Edinburgh," was again rebuilt in the form represented in 
the engraving, in the year 1606. 

At a still later date, the same parties, in their anxiety to defend this important pass, 
" causit all the houssis of Leith and Sanct Marie Wyndis heidis to be tane doun ! " 
The Earl of Mar was no less zealous in his preparations for its assault. He caused trenches 
to be cast up in the Pleasance, for nine pieces of large and small ordnance, and mounted 
others on Salisbury Crags, " to ding Edinburgh with," so that the poor burghers of that 
quarter must have found good reason for wishing the siege to draw to a close. Provisions 
failed, and all fresh supplies were most diligently intercepted; military law prevailed in its 
utmost rigour, and the sole appearance of their enjoying a moment's ease occurs in the 
statement, that " uochttheles the remaneris thairin abaid patientlie, and usit all plesouris 
quhilkis were wont to be usit in the moneth of Maij in aid tymes, viz., Robin Hude and 
Litill Johne." 

This frightful state of affairs was at length brought to a close, with little advantage ti 
either party; and on the 27th of July 1572, the whole artillery about the walls, on tht 
steeple head of St Giles's, and the Kirk-of- Field, were removed to the Castle, and the Cross 
being most honourably hung with tapestry, a truce was proclaimed by the heralds, with 
eound of trumpets, and the hearty congratulations of the people. 4 

In the month of August Knox returned to Edinburgh, after an absence of nearly two 
years. His life was drawing rapidly to a close, and on the 24th of November 1572 he ex- 
pired in his sixty-seventh year. His body was interred in the Churchyard of St Giles, and 
was attended to the grave by a numerous concourse of people, including many of the chief 

1 Diurnal of Occurrents, pp. 220, 226, 251. 2 Ante, p. 8. 

3 Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 241. 4 Ibid, p. 308. 

8 4 


nobility. The simple eloge pronounced by the Regent over his grave, has been remembered 
from its pointed force " There lies he who never feared the face of man." The old church- 
yard has long since been paved, and converted into the Parliament Square, and all evidence 
of the spot lost. It cannot but excite surprise that no eifort should have been made to 
preserve the remains of the Reformer from such desecration, or to point out to posterity 
the site of his resting-place. 1 If the tradition mentioned by Chambers 2 may be relied upon, 
that his burial place was a few feet from the front of the old pedestal of King Charles's 
statue the recent change in the position of the latter must have placed it directly over his 
g rave ; perhaps as strange a monument to the Great Apostle of Presbyterianism as fancy 

could devise ! 

On the death of the Earl of Mar, Morton was elected Regent, and the brief truce 
speedily brought to a close. Within two days thereafter, Kirkaldy sallied out of the 
Castle towards evening, and set fire to the houses on the south side of the Castle rock ; a 
strong wind was blowing at the time from the west, and the garrison of the Castle kept 
up a constant cannonade, so as to prevent any succour being attempted, so that the whole 
mass of houses was burnt down eastward to Magdalen Chapel, a piece of useless cruelty, 
that gained him many enemies, without answering any good purpose. 

The English Queen now sent Sir William Drury, with a body of troops and a train 
of artillery, to assist the Regent in reducing the Castle, the last stronghold of the 
adherents of Queen Mary. The fortress was gallantly defended by Sir William Kirkaldy, 
and the siege is perhaps one of the most memorable in its history. The narrative of an 
eye-witness, given in Holinshed's Chronicles, shows, even by its exaggerated descriptions, 
the difficulties experienced by the besiegers. It is understood to have been written by 
Thomas Churchyard, the poet, who was present at the siege, and has been reprinted in the 
Bannatyne Miscellany, accompanied by a remarkably interesting bird's-eye view of the town 
and Castle during the siege, engraved, as is believed, from a sketch made on the spot. 

In anticipation of the siege, the citizens erected several strong defences of turf and 
faggots, so as to protect the Church and Tolbooth. One is especially mentioned in the 
Diurnal of Occurrents, as " biggit of diffet and mik, 8 betuix the thevis hoill, and Bess 
Wynd, tua elu thick, and on the gait betuix the auld tolbuyth, and the vther syid tua 
speir heicht." 4 About three weeks later, on the 17th of January, "the nobility, with 
my Lord Regent, passed through St Giles's Church, at an entrance made through the 
Tolbooth wall to the laigh council-house of the town, on the west side of the Tolbooth, 
and there choose the Lords of the Articles, and returned the same way. The Earl 
of Angus bore the Crown, the Earl of Argyle the Sceptre, and the Earl of Morton the 
Sword of Honour. These were made of brass, and double overgilt with gold, because 
the principal jewels were in the Castle of Edinburgh, and might not be had."* So effectual 
did these ramparts prove, that the Parliament assembled as safely in the Tolbooth, and 
the people went as quietly to church, as they at any time did before the war began. 6 

The brave Captain, Sir William Kirkaldy of Grange, was already short of provisions 

1 A few paces to the west of King Charles's statue, there has recently been placed a small surface-bronzed stone ia 
the ground, with the initials " J. K.," indicating the Reformer's burial-place. 

s Traditions, vol. ii. p. 195. * i.e., Turf and mud. 4 Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 322. 

* Diurnal of Occurreuts, p. Z'U. ' s Journal of the Siege, Bannatyne Misc ., vol. ii. p. 74. 


when the siege commenced, and all further supplies were then completely cut off; yet he 
held out gallantly for thirty-three days, until reduced to the last extremities, and 
threatened with the desertion and mutiny of his men. The garrison did not despair until 
the besiegers had got possession of the spur, within which was the well on which they 
mainly depended for water. This battery stood on the Esplanade, nearest the town, as may 
be seen in the view given at the head of Chapter III., and was demolished in the year 
1 649, by order of the Committee of Estates. 

Holinshed mentions also the spring at the Well-house Tower, under the name of " St 
Margaret's Well, without the Castle, on the north side," by which some of the garrison 
suffered, owing to its being poisoned by the enemy. 

The only well that remained within the Castle was completely choked up with the 
ruins, and so great was the general devastation, that when a parley was demanded, the 
messenger had to be lowered over the walls by a rope. 1 The brave commander was 
delivered up by the English General to the vindictive power of the Regent, and he and 
his brother James, along with two burgesses of the city, were ignominiously " harlit in 
cartis bakwart " to the Cross of Edinburgh, and there hanged and quartered, 2 and 
their heads exposed upon the Castle wall. 3 

The Regent put the Castle into complete repair, and committed the keeping of it to 
his brother, George Douglas of Parkhead. He was at the same time Provost of the city, 
though he was speedily thereafter deprived of the latter office. Morton was now firmly 
established in the Regency, and he immediately proceeded to such acts of rapacity and 
injustice as rendered his government odious to the whole nation ; until the nobles at last 
united with the people in deposing him. He succeeded, however, in speedily regaining 
sufficient influence to secure the custody of the King's person. 

The loyalty which the citizens of Edinburgh displayed at various times, until the 
King's full assumption of the reins of government, obtained from him special acknow- 
ledgments of gratitude. In 1578, one hundred of their choicest young men were well 
accoutred and sent to Stirling as a royal guard. 4 They sent him also, at a later period, 
costly gifts of plate, though they remonstrated, with considerable decision, when he 
attempted to interfere with their right of election of Magistrates ; apologising, at the same 
time, for not sending the bailies to assign their reasons to him personally, because two 
of them were absent, and " the thrid had his wyfe redy to depart furth of this warld." 5 

The King at length summoned a Parliament to assemble at Edinburgh in October 
1579, and made his first public entry into his capital. He was received at the West Port 
by the Magistrates, under a pall of purple velvet; and an allegory of " King Solomon 
with the twa wemen," was exhibited as a representation of the wisdom of Solomon; after 
which the sword and sceptre were presented to him. At the ancient gate in the West Bow, 
the keys of the city were given him in a silver basin with the usual device of a Cupid 
descending from a globe, while " Dame Music and hir scollars exercisit hir art with great 
melodie." At the Tolbooth, he was received by three gallant virtuous ladies, to wit, Peace, 
Plenty, and Justice, who harangued him in the Greek, Latin, and Scotch languages ; and, 
as he approached St Giles's Church, Dame Religion showed herself, and in the Hebrew 

1 Bannatyne Misc. vol., ii. p. 76. 2 Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 335. ' Hist, of James the Sext., p. 145. 

4 Maitknd, p. 36. * Idicl, p. 37. 




tongue desired his presence, which he obeyed by entering the Church. After sermon, a 
more lively representation was prepared for him ; Bacchus appeared on the Cross distribut- 
ing his wine freely to all ; the streets through which he passed were strewed with flowers, 
and hung with tapestry and painted histories ; and the whole fanciful pageant wound up 
with a very characteristic astrological display, exhibiting the conjunction of the planets, 'in 
their degrees and places, as at his Majesty's happy nativity, " vividly represented by the 
assistance of King Ptolome ! " 1 

The King then passed on to his Palace of Holyrood, attended by two hundred horse- 
men, and the Parliament assembled immediately after in the Tolbooth, and continued its 
deliberations there for some weeks. The influence of Morton had been rapidly lessening 
with the King, while the number and power of his enemies increased. Towards the close 
of 1080, he was arraigned to stand his trial for the murder of Darnley ; and he was executed 

the following year by an instrument called 
the Maiden, a species of guillotine which he 
had himself introduced into Scotland. His 
head was placed on the Tolbooth, and his 
body ignominiously buried at the Borough 
Mnir the usual place of sepulture for the 
vilest criminals. 

Considering the high hand with which 
the civic rulers of the capital contrived to 
carry nearly every point during the reign of 
Queen Mary, it is astonishing how speedily 
James VI. brought them into subjection. He 
interfered constantly in their elections, 
though only with partial success, and used 
their purse with a condescending freedom 
that must often have proved very irritating. 
They were required to maintain a body-guard 
for him at their own expense ; and whenever 

it suited his Majesty's convenience, were commanded to furnish costly entertainments to 
foreign nobles and ambassadors. 2 

In October 1589, the King suddenly sailed from Leith to bring home his Queen, Anne 
of Denmark, leaving orders of a sufficiently minute and exacting nature for their honour- 
able reception on his return. One of the first articles requires, that the town of Edinburgh, 
the Canoi^te, and Leith, shall be in arms, ranked on both sides of the way between 
Leith and Holyrood House, to hold off the press ; and the Council are directed to deal 
earnestly with the town of Edinburgh for providing ships and all other necessaries. 

Various acts of the Town Council show the straits they were put to in the accomplish- 
ment of this. " The Baillies were ordained to pass through their quarters, and borrow 
fra the honest nychtbouris thairof, ane quantitie of the best sort of thair naiperie, 
to serve the strayngeris that sail arryve with the Quene." Orders were given for 

1 Hist, of James the Sext., p. 178-180. Maitland, p. 37. 2 Maitland, p. 44, 5. 

VIONETTE The Maiden. 


< 4 

the Nether Bow to be repaired bonfires "a propyne. of ane jowell to the Quenis 
grace," &c. &c. 

The King and Queen at length arrived at Leith on the 1st of May 1590, and remained 
in " the King's work there" till the 6th of the month, while the Palace of Holyrood was 
getting ready. On the 17th of May the Queen was crowned in Holyrood Abbey, Mi- 
Robert Bruce pouring upon her breast " a bonye quantitie of oyll," and " Mr Andro 
Meluene, principall of the Colledge of the Theolloges, making ane oratione in tua bunder 

Lateine verse ! " 

IIP. !\ 'fa a ' ujO inl lit 
The second day they at length entered the capital, the manner of approaching which 

from the Palace is worthy of notice, as a key to the usual route pursued on similar 
occasions. " At her comming to the south side of the yardes of the Canogit, along the 
parke wall, being in sight of the Castle, they gave her thence a great voley of shot, with 
their banners and ancient displays upon the walls. Thence she came to the West Port," 
where she was received with a Latin oration, so that the royal procession must have skirted 
along the whole line of the more modern city wall, where Lauriston now is. At the West 
Port they were welcomed with even more than the usual costly display. The same variety 
of allegories and ingenious devices had been prepared. An angel presented the keys to her 
Majesty ; she rode in a chariot drawn by eight horses, decorated with velvet trappings, 
richly embroidered with gold and silver, and was attended by sixty youths, as Moors, with 
chains about their necks, and gorgeously apparelled with jewels and ornaments of gold. 
The nine muses received them at the Butter Trone, with very excellent singing of psalms. 
At the Cross she had another " verie good psalme," and then entered St Giles's Church, 
where a sermon was preached before their Majesties. Numerous allegories, goddesses, Chris- 
tian virtues, and the like, followed. Indeed, from the inventory furnished by a poet of the 
period, the wide range of classic fancy would seem to have been rausacked for the 
occasion : 

To recreat hir hie renoun, 
Of curious things thair wes all sort, 
The stairs and houses of the toun 
With Tapestries were spred athort, 
Quhair Histories men micht behauld, 
With Images and Antioks auld. 

* * * * 

It written wes with stories tnae, 
How VENVS, with a thundring thud, 
Inclos'd ACHATES and ENAE, 
Within a mekill mistie clud : 
And how fair ANNA, wondrous wraith, 
Deplors hir sister DIDOS daith. 

* # # * 

IXION that the quheill doia turne 
In Hell, that ugly hole, so mirk ; 
And EBOSTEATVS quha did burne 
The costly fair EPHESIAN Kirk : 
And BLIADES, quho falls in soun 
With drawing buckets up and down. 

1 Marriage of James VI., Bann. Club, p. 39. 



All curious pastimes and consaitii, 

Cud be imaginat be man, 

Wes to be sene on Edinburgh gait*, 

Fra time that brauitie began : 

Ye might haif hard on eureie streit, 

Trim melodie and musiok sweit. 1 

And so the poet goes on through thirty-four stanzas of like quaint description. At the 
Nether Bow, after a representation of marriage had been enacted before them, there was 
let down to the Queen, by a silk string, from the top of the Port, a box covered with 
purple velvet, and with her Majesty's initials wrought on it in diamonds and precious 
stones, a parting gift from the good town. More very good psalms followed, and so 
they rode home to the Palace, well pleased, it is to be hoped, with the day's entertain- 
ments. 2 

A few davs after, the Magistrates entertained the Danish nobles and ambassadors, with 
their numerous suites, at a splendid banquet, " maid at the townis charges and expensis, in 
Thomas Aitchisoun's, master of the Cunzie hous lugeing, at Todrik's Wynd fute," a well- 
known building, the massive, polished, ashlar front of which still presents a prominent 
object amid the faded grandeur of the Cowgate. 

The records of the Town Council contain some curious entries regarding this feast. The 
wine and ale seem to have formed nearly as important an item in the account as they did 
in FalstafTs tavern bills I My Lord Provost undertakes to provide " naiprie" on the 
occasion, and if needs be, to advance " ane bunder pund or mair, as thai sail haif ado;" 
and the treasurer is directed " to agrie with the fydleris at the bankit, and the samen sail 
be allowit in his compts.'" 

The Lord High Treasurer's accounts are equally minute, testifying to the truth of an 
expression used by James on the occasion, that "a King with a new married wife did 
not come hame every day!" e.g., "Item, be his Grace precept and special command, 
twentie-thrie elnis and ane half reid crammosie velvet, to be jowppis and breikis to his 
Majesties four laquayis. Item, for furnessing of fyftene fedder beddis to the Densis 
[Danes] within the Palice of Halierudhous, fra the fourt day of Maij 1590, to the auchtene 
day of Julij ; takand for ilk bed, in the nicht, tua schilling!" &c. ; the whole winding np 
with an item, to James Nisbet, jailor of the Tolbnith, for his expenses in keeping sundry 
witches there, by his Majesty's orders. 

Few incidents, which are very closely connected with Edinburgh, occurred during the 
remainder of the King's life, until his accession to the English throne. In 1596, owing to 
a disagreement between him and the clergy, a tumult was excited, which greatly exasper- 
ated him, so that he ordered the Parliament and Courts of Justice to be removed from 
thence, and even listened to the advice of several of his nobles, who recommended him 
utterly to erase the city from the face of the earth, and erect a column on the site of it, "as 
an infamous memorial of their detestable rebellion ! " The magistrates made the most 
abject offers of submission, but King James, who, with all his high notions of prerogative, 
enjoyed very little of the real power of a king, so long as he remained in Scotland, was 

Dencription of the Queen's Entry into Edinburgh, by John Bvrel. Watson's Coll. of Scots Poems. 
* Hist, of James the Sext., p. 38-42. Acts of Town Council, apud Marriage of James VI., p. 



very willing to make the most of such an occasion as this, and remained for a time inexor- 
able. The magistrates were required to surrender themselves prisoners at Perth, and one 
of them having failed to appear, the town was denounced, the inhabitants declared rebels, 
and the city revenues sequestrated to the King's use. 

The magistrates at length went in a body to the Palace of Holyrood House, and, kneel- 
ing before him, made offer of such concessions as the indignant monarch was pleased to 
accept. One of the conditions bound them to deliver up, for the King's sole use, the 
houses in their kirkyard, occupied by the town ministers, which was accordingly done, and 
on the site of them, the Parliament House, which still stands (though recently entirely 
remodelled externally), was afterwards built,. They also agreed to pay to him the sum of 
twenty thousand merks, and so at length all difficulties were happily adjusted between 
them, and the city restored to its ancient privileges. 

After the execution of the famous Earl of Gowry and his brother at Perth, their dead 
bodies were brought to Edinburgh and exposed at the Market Cross, hung in chains. From 
that time, James enjoyed some years of tranquillity, living at Holyrood and elsewhere in 
such homely state as his revenues would permit; and when the extravagance of his 
Queen, who was a devoted patron of the royal goldsmith, George Heriot, or his 
own narrow means, rendered his housekeeping somewhat stinted, he was accustomed 
to pay a condescending visit to some of the wealthier citizens in the High Street of 

An interesting old building, called Lockhart's Court, Niddry's Wynd, which was 
demolished in constructing the southern approach to the town, was especially famous as 
the scene of such civic entertainment of royalty. We learn, from Moyses's Memoirs, of 
James's residence there in 1591, along with his Queen, shortly after their arrival from 
Denmark, and their hospitable reception by Nicol Edward, a wealthy citizen, who was 
then Provost of Edinburgh. 1 

His visits, also, to George Heriot were of frequent occurrence, and, as tradition reports, 
he made no objection to occasionally discussing a bottle of wine in the goldsmith's little 
booth, at the west end of St Giles's Church, which was only about seven feet square. 2 

The death of Queen Elizabeth, in 1603, produced a lively excitement in the minds both 
of King and people. The anticipation of this event for years had gradually prepared, and 
in some degree reconciled, the latter to the idea of their King going to occupy the throne of 
" their auld enemies of England," but its injurious influence on the capital could not be 
mistaken. On the 31st of March the news was proclaimed at the City Cross by the secre- 
tary Elphinstone, and Sir David Lindsay, younger, the Lyon King. 

King James, before his departure, attended public service in St Giles's Church, where he 
had often before claimed the right of challenging the dicta of the preachers from the royal 
gallery. An immense crowd assembled on the occasion, and listened with deep interest to 
a discourse expressly addressed to his Majesty upon the important change. The King took 
it in good part, and, on the preacher concluding, he delivered a farewell address to the 
people. Many were greatly affected at the prospect of their King's departure, which was 
generally regarded as anything rather than a national benefit. The farewell was couched 
in the warmest language of friendship. He promised them that he would defend their 

1 Moyaes's Memoirs, p. 182. 2 Chambers's Traditions, vol. ii. p. 210. 


faith unchanged, and revisit the Scottish capital every three years. He committed his 
children, whom he left behind, to the care of the Earl of Mar and others of his most 
trusty nobles, and took his departure for England on the 5th of April 1603. 

The accession of James to the English throne produced, at the time, no other change 
on Edinburgh than the removal of the Court and some of the chief nobility to London. 
The King continued to manifest a lively interest in his ancient capital; in ]608 he wrote 
to the magistrates, guarding them in an unwonted manner against countenancing any 
interference with the right of the citizens to have one of themselves chosen to fill the office 
of Provost. In the following year, he granted them duties on every tun of wine, for sus- 
taining the dignity of the civic rulers ; he also empowered the Provost to have a sword 
borne before him on all public occasions, and gave orders that the magistrates should be 
provided with gowns, similar to those worn by the Aldermen of London. 

It is very characteristic of King James, that, not content with issuing his royal man- 
date on this important occasion, he forwarded them two ready-made gowns as patterns, 
lest the honourable Corporation of the Tailors of Edinburgh should prove unequal to the 
duty. 1 

At length, after an absence of fourteen years, the King intimated his gracious intention 
of honouring the capital of his ancient kingdom with a visit. He accordingly arrived there 
on the 16th of May 1617, and was received at the "West Port by the magistrates in their 
official robes, attended by the chief citizens habited in velvet. The town-clerk delivered 
a most magnificent address,, wherein he blessed God that their eyes were once more per- 
mitted " to feed upon the royal countenance of our true phoenix, the bright star of our 

northern firmament Our sun (the powerful adamant of our wealth), by whose 

removing from our hemisphere we were darkened ; deep sorrow and fear possessed our 
hearts. The very hills and groves, accustomed before to be refreshed with the dew of your 
Majesty's presence, not putting on their wonted apparel, but with pale looks, representing 
their misery for the departure of their royal King. ... A King in heart as upright 
as David, wise as Solomon, and godlie as Josias ! " 

In like eloquent strains the orator proceeds through a long address, after which the King 
and nobility were entertained at a sumptuous banquet, where the City presented his Majesty 
with the sum of ten thousand merks, in double golden angels, tendered to him in a gilt 
basin of silver. 2 

The King had been no less anxious than the citizens " to let the nobles of Ingland 
knaw that his cuntrie was nothing inferior to thers in anie respect." By his orders the 
Palace was completely repaired and put in order, and the Chapel " decorit with organis, 
and uthir temporall policie," while a ship laden with wines, was sent before him "to lay in 
the cavys of his Palicis of Halyruidhous, and uther partis of his resort." 8 

A Parliament was held in Edinburgh on this occasion, wherein the King availed him- 
self of the popular feelings excited by his presence, to secure the first steps of his favourite 
project for restoring Episcopal government to the Church. 

The King at length bade farewell to his Scottish subjects in September 1617, and 
little occurred to disturb the tranquillity of Edinburgh during the remainder of his 

1 Council Register, Sept. 7th, 1609. = Maitland, p. 60. Hist, of James the Sext , p. 395. 


In the following year, the Common Council purchased the elevated ground lying to tlifl 
south of the city, denominated the High Riggs, on part of which Heriot's Hospital was 
afterwards built, and the latest extension of the city wall then took place for the purpose 
of enclosing it. A portion of this wall still forms the western boundary of the Hospital 
grounds, terminating at the head of the Vennel, in the only remaiaing tower of the ancient 
city wall. The close of the succeeding year was signalised by the visit of Ben Jonson, on 
his way to Hawthornden, the seat of the poet Drummond, where the memory of his 
residence is still preserved. 

The accession of Charles I. was marked by demands for heavy contributions, for the 
purpose of fitting out ships, and erecting forts for securing the coasts of the kingdom. 
The Common Council of Edinburgh entered so zealously into this measure, that the King 
addressed to them a special letter of thanks ; and as a further proof of his gratitude, he 
presented the Provost with a gown, to be worn according to King James's appointment, 
and a sword to be borne before him on all public occasions. 

The citizens were kept for several years in anticipation of another royal visit, which 
was at length accomplished in 1633. The same loyalty was displayed, as on similar occa- 
sions, for receiving the King with suitable splendour. The celebrated poet, Drummond 
of Hawthornden, was appointed to address him on this occasion, which he did in -a 
speech little less extravagant than that with which the town-clerk had hailed his royal 
father's arrival. 

The orator's poetical skill was next called into requisition. The King was received at 
the West Port by the nymph Edina, and again at the Overborn by the lady Caledonia, each 
of whom welcomed him in copious verse, attributed to Drummond's pen. The members 
of the College added their quota, and Mercury, Apollo, Eudymion, the Moon, and a whole 
host of celestial visitants made trial of the royal patience in lengthy rhymes ! 

Fergus I. received the King at the Tolbooth, and " in a grave speech gave many 
paternal and wholesome advices to his royal successor; " and Mount Parnassus was 
erected at the Trone, " with a great variety of vegetables, rocks, and other decorations 
peculiar to mountains," and crowded with all its ancient inhabitants. The whole fantastic 
exhibition cost the city upwards of 41,000 Scottish money! 1 The most interesting 
feature on the occasion was a series of the chief works of Jamesone, the famous Scottish 
painter, with which the Nether Bow Port was adorned. This eminent artist continued to 
reside in Edinburgh till his death, in 1644. He was buried in the Greyfriars' Church- 
yard, but without a monument, and tradition has failed to preserve any record of the 

This hearty reception by the citizens of Edinburgh was followed by his coronation, on 
the 18th of June, in the Abbey Church of Holyrood, with the utmost splendour and pomp ; 
but the King was not long gone ere the discontents of the people were manifested by mur- 
muring and complaints. Under the guidance of Laud, Charles had resolved to carry out 
the favourite project of his father, for the complete establishment of Episcopacy in Scot- 
laud ; but he lacked the cautious prudence of James, no less than the wise councillors of 
Elizabeth. He erected Edinburgh into a separate diocese, taking for that purpose a por- 
tion of the ancient Metropolitan See of St Andrews, and appointed the Collegiate Church 

1 Maitland, p. 63-69. 


of St Giles as its Cathedral. The consequences of his efforts are well known. The new 
service-book, which had been expressly prepared for the use of the Scottish Ciiurch, 
was, after considerable delay, produced in the public services of the day, on Sunday, 

'23d July 1637. 

In St Giles's Church, the Dean ascended the reading-desk, arrayed in his surplice, and 
opened the service-book. The church was crowded on this memorable occasion, with the 
Lord Chancellor, the Lords of the Privy Council, the Judges and Bishops, as well as a vast 
multitude of the people. 1 No sooner did the Dean commence the unwonted service, than 

the utmost confusion and uproar prevailed. 
The service being at a pause, the Bishop, 
from his seat in the gallery, called to him 
to proceed to the Collect of the day. 
" De'il colic the wame o' thee ! " exclaimed 
Jenny Geddes, as the Dean was preparing 
to proceed with the novel formulas; and, 
hurling the cutty stool, on which she 
sat, at his head, " Out," cried she, " thou 
false thief ! dost thou say mass at my lug?" 2 

Dr Lindsay, the Bishop of Edinburgh, now attempted to quell the tumult ; he ascended 
the pulpit, and reminded the people of the sanctity of the place ; but this only increased 
their violence. The Archbishop of St Andrews and the Lord Chancellor interfered with 
as little effect ; and when the Magistrates at length succeeded, by flattery and threats, in 
clearing the church of the most violent of the audience, they renewed their attack from 
the outside, and assaulted the church with sticks and stones, shouting meanwhile, Pape, 
Pape, Antichrist, pull him dorvn! The Bishop was assaulted by them on his leaving the 
church ; and, with great difficulty, succeeded in reaching his house in the High Street. 
The access to the first floor was, according to the old fashion, still common in that locality, 
by an outside stair. As he was endeavouring to ascend this, one of the rabble seized his 
gown, and nearly pulled him backward to the street. An old song is believed to have 
been written in allusion to this affray, of which only one verse, referring to this scene, has 
been preserved : 

Put the gown upon the bishop, 
That's his miller's-due o' kuaveship; 
Jenny Geddes was the gossip, 
Put the gown upon the bishop. 

The poor Bishop at length reached the top of the stair ; but there, when he flattered 
himself he was secure of immediate shelter, he found, to his inconceivable vexation, that 
the outer door was locked ; and he had again to turn round and try, by his eloquence, to 
mollify the wrath of his unrelenting assailants. Often did he exclaim, in answer to their 
reproaches, that " he had not the wyte of it," but all in vain ; he was hustled down again 
to the street, and was only finally rescued, when in danger of his life, by the Earl of 

* Maitland, p. 71. 

* D. Laing, apud Carlyle's Cromwell, vol. i. p. 137. 
VIGNETTE Jenny Oeddes's Stool. 


Wemyss, his next door neighbour, who sent a party of servants to his aid, and had the 
unfortunate prelate brought to the shelter of the Earl's own mansion. 1 

In the Greyfriars' Church the service-book met with a similar reception, while most 
of the other clergy prudently delayed its use. till they should see how it was relished by 
the people. This memorable day was afterwards distinguished by the name of Stoney 

" The immortal Jenet Geddis," as she is styled in a pamphlet of the period, survived 
long after her heroic onslaught on the Dean of Edinburgh. She kept a cabbage-stall at 
the Trou Kirk, as late as 1661, and, notwithstanding the scepticism of some zealous 
investigators, the Society of Antiquaries for Scotland still show, in their museum, her 
formidable weapon the cutty stool. with which this heroine struck the initial stroke in 
the great civil war. 8 

The multitudes of all ranks, who speedily assembled in Edinburgh, determined to unite 
for mutual protection. They formed a league for the defence of religion, each section being 
classified according to their ranks, and thus arose the famous committees called the Four 
TABLES. On the royal edict for the maintenance of the service-book being proclaimed at 
the Market Cross, on the 22d February 1638, a solemn protest was read aloud by some of 
the chief noblemen of that party deputed for that purpose, and five days afterwards, be- 
tween two and three hundred clergymen and others assembled at the Tailors' Hall (a fine 
old building still existing in the Cowgate), and took into consideration the COVENANT that 
had been drawn up. 

This important document was presented to a vast multitude, who assembled on the 
following day in the Greyfriars' Church and Churchyard. It was solemnly read aloud, and 
after being signed by the nobles and others in the church, it was laid on a flat tombstone 
in the churchyard, and eagerly signed by all ranks of the people. The parchment on whicli 
it was engrossed was four feet long, and when there was no longer room on either side to 
write their names, the people subscribed their initials round the margin. 

The same National Covenant, when renewed at a later date, was placed for signature 
in an old mansion, long afterwards used as a tavern, and which still remains in good 
preservation, at the foot of the Covenant Close, as it has ever since been called. 

In the year 1641 Charles again visited Edinburgh, for the purpose of " quieting distrac- 
tion for the people's satisfaction." The visit, however, led to little good ; he offended his 
friends without conciliating his enemies, and after another civic entertainment from the 
magistrates of the city, he bade a final adieu to his Scottish capital. He is said to have been 
fond of the game of golf, and the following anecdote is told of him in connection with it: 
While he was engaged in a party at this game, on the Links of Leith, a letter was de- 
livered into his hands, which gave him the first account of the insurrection and rebellion 
in Ireland. On reading which, he suddenly called for his coach, and, leaning on one of his 
attendants, and in great agitation, drove to the Palace of Holyrood House, from whence 
next day he set out for London. 4 

The Covenanters followed up their initiatory movement in the most resolute and effective 

1 Chambera's Rebellions in Scotland, vol. i. p. 66. * Arnot, p. 109. 

* Edinburgh's Joy, &e., 1661. Chainbers's Minor Antiq., p. 180. 

4 W. Tytler of Woodhouselee, Esq., Archjeologia Scotica, voi. i. p. 503. The anecdote is so far incorrect as to 
Charles's immediate departure for London, as he stayed till the dissolution of the Scottish 1'arliiimeiit. 


manner. They deprived and excommunicated the whole body of Archbishops and Bishops, 
abolished Episcopacy, and all that pertained to it, and required every one to subscribe the 
Covenant, under pain of excommunication. 

They now had recourse to arms. Leslie was appointed General of their forces ; and on 
the 21st of March 1639, they proceeded to assault Edinburgh Castle. No provision had 
been made against such an attack, and its Governor surrendered at the first summons. 

Early in 1648, Oliver Cromwell paid his first visit to Edinburgh, after having defeated 
the army of the Duke of Hamilton. He took up his residence at Moray House, in the 
Canongate, and entered into communication with " the Lord Marquis of Argyle, and the 
rest of the well affected Lords." There he was visited by the Earl of Loudon, the Chancellor, 
the Earl of Lothian, and numerous others of the nobility and leading men. 1 The visit was 
a peaceable one, and his stay brief. 

On the death of his father, Charles II. was proclaimed King at the Cross of Edinburgh; 
but the terms on which he was offered the Scottish Crown proved little to his satisfaction, 
and the Marquis of Montrose sought to win it for him without such unpalatable conditions. 
He completely failed, however, in the attempt, and was seized, while escaping in the 
disguise of a peasant, and brought to Edinburgh on the 18th of May 1650. He was 
received at the Water Gate by the magistrates and an armed body of the citizens, and 
was from thence conducted in a common cart, through the Canongate and High Street, 
to the Tolbooth ; the hangman riding on the horse before him. He was condemned to 
be hanged and quartered, and the sentence was executed, three days after, with the most 
savage barbarity, at the Cross of Edinburgh. His head was affixed to the Tolbooth, 
and his severed members sent to be exposed in the chief towns of the kingdom. 2 The 
annals of this period abound with beheadings, hangings, and cruelties of every kind. 
Nicol, at the very commencement of his minute and interesting Diary, records that " thair 
wes daylie hanging, skurgiug, nailling of luggis, and binding of pepill to the Trone, and 
booring of tongues ! " 

The King at length agreed to subscribe the Covenant, finding no other terms could be 
had. On the 2nd of August, he landed at Leith, and rode in state to the capital. He was 
surrounded with a numerous body of nobles, and attended by a life-guard provided by the 
city of Edinburgh. The procession entered at the Water Gate, and rode up the Canongate 
and High Street to the Castle, where he was received with a royal salute. On his return 
from thence, he walked on foot to the Parliament House, where a magnificent banquet had 
been prepared for him by the Magistrates. " Thereafter he went down to Leith, to ane 
ludging belonging to the Lord Balmarinoch, appointed for his resait during his abyding at 
Leith." : The fine old mansion of this family still stands at the corner of Coatfield Lane, 
in the Kirkgate. It has a handsome front to the east, ornamented with some curious speci- 
mens of the debased style of Gothic, prevalent in the reign of James VL 

The arrival of the parliamentary forces in Scotland, and the march of Cromwell to 
Edinburgh, produced a rapid change in affairs. " The enemy," says Nicol, " placed their 
whole horse in and about the town of Restalrig, the foot at that place called Jokis Lodge, 
and the cannon at the foot of Salisbury Hill, within the park dyke, and played with their 
cannon against the Scottish leaguer, lying in Saint Leonard's Craigs." The English army, 
1 Guthrie's Memoirs, p. 298. 2 Nicol's Diary, p. 12. 3 Ibid, p. 21. 


as is well known, followed the Scottish forces under Leslie, in all their movements, so that 
they were encamped at various times all round the city. One spot is particularly pointed 
out, immediately to the westward of Coltbridge, where Cromwell's forces lay on the rising 
ground all around, and only separated from the Presbyterian army by the Water of Leith 
and the marshy fields along its banks. Roseburn House, a very interesting old mansion, 
where Cromwell is said to have passed the night while the army lay encamped in its neigh- 
bourhood, still remains, bearing the date 1562 over its principal entrance. In levelling 
one of the neighbouring mounds some years since, some stone coffins were found, and a 
large quantity of human bones, evidently of a very ancient date, as they crumbled to pieces 
on being exposed to the air ; bat the tradition of the neighbouring hamlet is, that they 
were the remains of some of Cromwell's troopers. Our informant, the present intelligent 
occupant of Eoseburn House, mentioned the curious fact, that among the remains dug up, 
there were the bones of a human leg, with fragments of a wooden coffin or case, of the 
requisite dimensions, in which it had evidently been buried apart. 

The battle of Dunbar at length placed the southern portion of Scotland completely in 
the power of Cromwell, at the very moment when he was preparing to abandon the enter- 
prise, and embark his troops for England. The magistrates, as well as the ministers and 
the principal, inhabitants, having been involved in the movements of the defeated party, 
either deserted the town, or took refuge in the Castle on the approach of the victorious 

On the 7th of September 1650, Cromwell entered Edinburgh at the head of his army, 
and took possession of it and of the town of Leith. The capital was now subjected to 
martial law; the most rigid regulations were enforced, such as, " that upone ony allarum 
no inhabitant luik out of his hous upone payne of death, or walk on the streets after top-tow, 
upone payne of imprissonement." 1 Yet the peaceable inhabitants found no great reason 
to complain of his civic rule ; justice seems to have been impartially administered, though 
often with much severity, and the most rigid discipline enforced on the English troops. 
" Upon the 27th of September," says Nicol, " by orders of the General Cromwell, thair 
wes thrie of his awin sodgeris scurged by the Provest Marschellis men, from the Stone 
Chop to the Neddir Bow, and bak agane, for plundering of houssis within the toun ; and 
ane uther sodger maid to ryde the Meir at the Croce of Edinburgh, with ane pynt stop 
about his neck, his handis bund behind his back, and musketis hung at his feet, the full 
space of twa hours, for being drunk." 2 The same punishment of riding the Mare remained 
in force, as a terror to evil doers, till the destruction of the old citadel of the town-guard, 
and all its accompaniments, in the year 1785. 

The General again took up his residence in " the Earl of Murrie's house in the Canni- 
gate, where a strong guard is appointed to keep constant watch at the gate; " 3 and his 
soldiers were quartered in the Palace, and billeted about the town, while actively engaged 
in the siege of the Castle. The guard-house was in Dunbar' s Close, a name which it 
retains from the quarters it then furnished to the victors of Dunbar ; and a tradition is 
preserved, with considerable appearance of probability, that a handsome old house, still 
remaining at the foot of Sellars' Close, was occasionally occupied by Cromwell. It is a fine 

1 Nicol's Diary, p. 30. a Ibid, p. 33. See the Wooden Mare in the view, ante, p. 74. 

* King's Pamphlets, apud Carlyle, vol i. p. 375. 


antique mansion, which forms a prominent feature in the view of the Old Town from 
the north, having two terraced roofs at different elevations, guarded by a neatly coped 
parapet wall, and commanding an extensive view of the Forth, where the English fleet 
then lay. 

The preachers were invited by Cromwell to leave the Castle, and return to their pulpits, 
but they declined to risk themselves in the hands of the " sectaries," and their places were 
accordingly filled, sometimes by the independent preachers, but oftener by the soldiers, 
who unbuckled their swords in the pulpit, and wielded their spiritual weapons, greatly 
to the satisfaction of crowded audiences, " many Scots expressing much affection at the 
doctrine, in their usual way of groans ! " 1 Cromwell himself is said, by Pinkerton, to have 
preached in St Giles's Churchyard, while David, the second Lord Cardross, was holding 
forth at the Trone. 2 

On the 13th of November the Palace of Holyrood was accidentally set on fire by some 
of the English troops who were quartered there, and the whole of the ancient Palace 
destroyed, with the exception of the north-west towers, finished by James V. It seems 
probable that the troops, thus deprived of a lodging, were afterwards quartered in some of 
the deserted churches. Nicol mentions, immediately after the notice of this occurrence, in. 
his Diary, that " the College Kirk, the Gray Freir Kirk, and that Kirk callit the Lady 
Yesteris Kirk, the Hie Scule, and a great pairt of the College of Edinburgh, wer wasted ; 
their pulpites, daskis, loftis, saittes, and all their decormentis, wer all dung doun to the 
ground by these Inglische sodgeris, and brint to asses." Accommodation was at length 
found for them in Heriot's Hospital, then standing unfinished, owing to the interruption 
occasioned by the war ; and it was not without considerable difficulty that General Monk 
was persuaded, at a later period, to yield it up to its original purpose, on suitable barracks 
being provided elsewhere. 

The siege of the Castle was vigorously prosecuted : Cromwell mustered the colliers from 
the neighbouring pits, and set them to work a mine below the fortifications, the opening of 
which may still be seen in the freestone rock, on the south side, near the new Castle road. 
The commander of the fortress had not been, at the first, very hearty in his opposition to 
Cromwell, and finding matters growing thus desperate, he came to terms with him, and 
saved the Castle being blown about his ears, by resigning it into the General's hands. 

One of the earliest proceedings of the new garrison was to clear away the neighbouring 
obstructions that had afforded shelter to themselves in their approaches during the siege. 
" Considering that the Wey-hous of Edinburgh was ane great impediment to the schottis 
of the Castell, the samyn being biggit on the -hie calsey ; thairfoir, to remove that impedi- 
ment, Genera] Cromwell gaif ordouris for demolisching of the Wey-house ; and upone the 
last day of December 1650, the Englisches began the work, and tuik doun the stepill of it 
that day, and so continued till it wes raised." * We learn, from the same authority, of the 
re-edification of this building after the Eestoration. "The Wey-hous, quhilk wes de- 
moleist by that traitour Cromwell, at his incuming to Edinburgh, eftir the feght of Dum- 
bar, began now to be re-edified in the end of August 1660, but far inferior to the former 
condition." 4 The cumbrous and ungainly building thus erected, remained an encumbrance 

1 Cromwelliana, apud Carlyle's Letters, &c., vol. i. p. 361. 8 Pinkerton'a Scottish Cutlery, Lord Cardross. 

* Nicol's Diary, p. 48. 4 ibid, p. 30<X 



to the street, at the head of the West Bow, till 1822, when it was hastily pulled down, to 
widen the approach to the Castle, preparatory to the public entry of George IV. 

When the authority of the English Parliament was completely established in Edinburgh, 
the leaders of the army proceeded to arrange matters according to their own views. General 
Lambert applied to the Town Council of Edinburgh " to appropriate to him the East Kirk 
of Edinburgh, being the special kirk, and best in the town, for his exercise at sermon." 
The request was granted, and the pulpit was thereafter occupied by " weill giftit " captains, 
lieutenants, and troopers, as well as occasional English ministers, while others of the 
troopers taught in the Parliament House, 1 and like convenient places of assembly. 

The citizens of Edinburgh were alarmed at this time by the settlement of a number of 
English families in Leith, and proposals for the fortification of the town, that threatened 
them with the loss of their highly-prized claim of superiority. The question afforded matter 
for appeal and tedious litigation, and the rights of Edinburgh were only secured to them 
at last on condition of their contributing 5000 sterling towards the erection of a citadel in 

The fortification which was erected, in consequence of this arrangement, was almost 
entirely demolished shortly after the Restoration, to the great satisfaction of the jealous 
citizens of Edinburgh, who seemed to dread no enemy so much as the rival traders of the 
neighbouring port. The cemetery belonging to the ancient Chapel and Hospital of St 
Nicolas was included within its site, and some of the old tombstones removed to the bury- 
ing-ground at the river side. One small fragment of the citadel still remains on the north 
side of Couper Street, of which we furnish a view. Many still living can remember it 

to have stood on the beach, though now a wide space intervenes between it and the new 
docks ; and the Mariners' Church, as .well as a long range of substantial warehouses, have 
been erected on the recovered land. 

So acceptable had the sway of the Lord Protector become with the civic rulers of Edin- 
burgh, notwithstanding the heavy taxes with which they were burdened for the maintenance 
of his army, and the general expenses of the government, that they commissioned a large 

1 Nicol's Diary, p. 94. 
VIGNETTE Citadel, Leitli. 


block of stone, for the purpose of erecting a colossal statue of his Highness in the Parliament 

The block had just been landed on the shore of Leith, when the news arrived of Crom- 
well's death. Monk altered his policy, and the magistrates not only found it convenient to 
forget their first intention, but with politic pliability, some years after, they erected the fine 
equestrian statue of Charles II., which still adorns that locality. The rejected block lay 
neglected on the sands at Leith, though all along known by the title of Oliver Cromwell, 
till, in November 1788, Mr Walter Ross, the well-known antiquary, had it removed, with 
no little difficulty, to the rising ground where Ann Street now stands, nearly opposite St 
Bernard's Well. The block was about eight feet high, intended apparently for the upper 
half of the figure. The workmen of the quarry had prepared it for the chisel of the statuary, 
by giving it, with the hammer, the shape of a monstrous mummy, and there stood the 
Protector, like a giant in his shroud, frowning upon the city ; until after the death of 
Mr Ross, his curious collection of antiquities was scattered, and the ground feued for 
building. 1 

General Monk, commander-in-chief of the army in Scotland, having resolved, after the 
death of Cromwell, to accomplish the restoration of Charles II., proceeded to arrange mat- 
ters previous to his march for London. He summoned a meeting of commissioners of the 
counties and boroughs to assemble at Edinburgh on the 15th of November 1659; and after 
having communicated his instructions to them, and received a special address of thanks 
from the magistrates of Edinburgh for his many services rendered to the city during his 
residence in Scotland, he returned to England to put his purpose in force. 

On the llth of May, iu the following year, the magistrates sent the town-clerk to the 
King, at Breda, to express their joy at the prospect of his restoration. The messenger 
paved the way to the royal favour by the humble presentation of "a poor myte of 1000, 
which the King did graciously accept, as though it had been a greater business ! " 

The " happy restoration " was celebrated in Edinburgh with the customary civic rejoic- 
ings, bonfires, banquets, ringing of bells, and firing of cannon ; though some difficulty was 
experienced in reconciling the soldiers to the unwonted task of firing the Castle guns on 
such an occasion of national rejoicing. 2 There was much wine spent on the occasion, " the 
spoutes of the Croce ryning and venting out abundance of wyne, and the Magistrates and 
Council of the town drinking the King's health, and breaking numbers of glasses ! " 

1 Caledonian Mercury, Nov. 10, 1788. The block was afterwards replaced at the end of Arm Street, overhanging 
the bed of the Water of Leith, and, either by accident or designedly, was shortly afterwards precipitated down the steep 
bank, and broken in pieces. a Nicoi's Diary, p. 233. 



fPHE restoration of Charles to his father's 

throne was nowhere more joyously regarded 
than in the ancient capital of the Stuarts. A Parliament was shortly afterwards assembled, 
at which the Earl of Middleton presided as Commissioner from the King, and the ancient 
riding of Parliament from the Palace of Holyrood to the Tolbooth, was revived with more 
than usual pomp and display. Some of the acts of this Parliament were of a sufficiently 
arbitrary and intolerant character ; but it more concerns our present subject that the Charter 
of Confirmation granted to Edinburgh was ratified, and the city's power of regality over 
the Canongate confirmed. 

One of the first proceedings of this Parliament was to revoke the attainder of the 
Marquis of Montrose, and order his dismembered body to be honourably buried. On 
Monday, 7th January 1661, according to Nicol, the Magistrates and Council of Edinburgh 
caused the timber and slates nearest to that part of the Tolbooth, where the Marquis's head 
was pricked and fixed, to be taken down, and made a large scaffold there, whereon were 
trumpeters and others standing uncovered, and waiting till his corpse was brought in from 
Meanwhile, a procession, composed of the chief nobility and Magis- 

the Borough Muir. 

VIGNETTE The Parliament House, about 1646, from J. Gordon. 


trates, attended by the burgesses in arms, proceeded to the Borough Muir, where the 
Marquis's body was taken up from its ignominious grave, put into a coffin, and born back 
to Edinburgh, under a rich canopy of velvet, amid music and firing of guns, and every 
demonstration of triumph. The procession stopped at the Tolbooth until the head was 
taken down and placed beside the body, after which the coffin was deposited in the Abbey 
Church of Holy rood. 1 

The other portions of the body 2 were afterwards collected and restored to the coffin, and 
on the llth of May following, the mutilated remains of the great Marquis were brought 
back from the Abbey in solemn funeral procession, and buried in the south-east aisle of 
St Giles's Church, " at the back of the tomb where his grandsire was buried," and which 
retained, until recently, the name of Montrose's aisle. 

Nicol furnishes a minute account of the proceedings on this occasion. The whole line 
of street from the Palace to St Giles's Church was guarded by the burghers of Edinburgh, 
Canongate, Portsburgh, and Potterrow, all in armour, and with their banners displayed. 
Twenty-six young boys, clad in deep mourning, bore his arms, and were followed by the 
Magistrates and all the members of Parliament, in mourning habits. The pall was borne 
by some of the chief nobility, and the Earl of Middleton, His Majesty's Commissioner, 
followed as chief mourner. 3 

The re-establishment of Episcopacy, in defiance of the most solemn engagements of the 
King, put a speedy close to the rejoicings of the Scottish nation. The Magistrates of 
Edinburgh, however, proved sufficiently loyal and complying. On the day of his Majesty's 
coronation, the Cross was adorned with flowers and branches of trees, and wine freely 
distributed to the people from thence, by Bacchus and his train. After dinner, the 
Magistrates walked in procession to the Cross, " and there drank the King's health 
on their knees, and at sundry other prime parts of the city." 4 

One of the first proceedings of the dominant party, was the trial and execution of the 
Marquis of Argyle, who was condemned in defiance of every principle of justice, by judges, 
each of them more deeply implicated than himself, in the acts for which he was brought 
to trial. He exhibited the utmost serenity and cheerfulness after his condemnation. He 
was beheaded by the instrument called the Maiden, the same that is said to have been 
invented by the Earl of Morton, and was employed for his own execution. The head of 
Argyle was exposed on the west end of the Tolbooth, on the same spike from which that of 
Montrose had so recently been removed with every demonstration of honour and respect ; 
a circumstance that illustrates, in a striking manner, the strange vicissitudes attendant on 
civil commotions. 

The most arbitrary and tyrannical enactments were now enforced, imposing exorbitant 
penalties on any one found with what were styled seditious books in his dwelling ; no one 

1 Nicol's Diary, p. 317. 

3 Thoresby, the friend of Evelyne, in the account of his Museum, says : " But the most noted of all the humane 
curiosities, is the hand and arm cut off at the elbow, positively asserted to be that of the celebrated Marquis of Montrose. 
It hath never been interred, has a severe wound in the wrist, and seems really to have been the very hand that wrote 
the famous epitaph [Great, Good, and Just] for King Charles I., in whose cause he suffered. Dr Pickering would not 
part with it, till the descent into Spain, when, dreading it should be lost in his absence, he presented it to this Repository, 
where it has more than once had the same honour that is paid to the greatest ecclesiastical prince in the world. " 
Ducatus Leodiensis, by Whitaker, p. 3. 

3 Nicol'a Diary, p. 330-2. Ibid, p. 328. 


was permitted to retain arras in his possession without a warrant from the Privy Council ; 
and religious persecution was carried to such a length, that the people were driven to 
open rebellion. The consequence of all this is well known. " The King's Majesty re- 
solved to settle the Church government in Scotland," but the settlement thereof proved a 
much more impracticable affair than he anticipated. One of the first steps towards the 
accomplishment of this, was the consecration of Bishops, which took place on the 7th 
of May 1662, in the Abbey Church of Holyrood. On the following day, the Parliament 
assembled, and the Bishops were restored to their ancient privileges as members of 
that body. They all assembled in the house of the Archbishop of St Andrews, at the 
Nether Bow, from whence they walked in procession, in their Episcopal robes, attended 
by the magistrates and nobles, and were received at the Parliament House with every 
show of honour. 1 

The annals of Edinburgh, for some years after this, are chiefly occupied with the 
barbarous executions of the Presbyterian Nonconformists ; in 1663, Lord Warriston, 
an eminent lawyer and statesman, who had taken refuge in France, was delivered up by 
Louis XIV. to^Charles II. He was sent to Edinburgh for trial, and, though tottering on 
the brink of the grave, was condemned and executed for his adherence to the Covenant ; 
the only mitigation of the usual sentence was, permission to inter his mutilated corpse in 
the Grey friars' Churchyard. Others of humbler rank were speedily subjected to the 
same mockery of justice, torture being freely applied when other evidence failed, so that 
the Grassrnarket, which was then the scene of public executions, has acquired an interest 
of a peculiar character, from the many heroic victims of intolerance who there laid down 
their lives in defence of liberty of conscience. 

The Bishops, as the recognised heads of the ecclesiastical system, in whose name these 
tyrannical acts were perpetrated, became thereby the objects of the most violent popular 
hate. In 1668, Archbishop Sharp was shot at, as he sat in his coach at the head of Black- 
friars' Wynd. The Bishop of Orkney was stepping in at the moment, and received five 
balls in different parts of his body, while the Archbishop, for whom they were intended, 
escaped unhurt. The most rigid search was immediately instituted for the assassin. The 
gates of the city were closed, and none allowed to pass without leave from a magistrate ; 
yet he contrived, by a clever disguise, to elude their vigilance, and effect his escape. Six 
years afterwards, the Primate recognised in one Mitchell, a fanatic preacher who eyed 
him narrowly, the features of the person who fled from his coach after discharging the shot 
which wounded the Bishop of Orkney. He was immediately seized, and a loaded pistol 
found on him, but, notwithstanding these presumptive proofs of guilt, no other evidence 
could be brought against him, and his trial exhibits little regard to any principle of 
morality or justice. He was put to the torture, without eliciting any confession from 
him; and at length, in 1676, two years after his apprehension, he was brought from the 
Bass, and executed at the Grassmarket, in order to strike terror into the minds of the 
Covenanters. 2 

The year 1678 is memorable in the annals of the good town, as having closed the career 
of one of its most noted characters, the celebrated wizard, Major Weir. The spot on 

1 Niool's Diary, p. 366. 2 Arnot, p. 148. 'A'odrow's Hist., vol. i. pp. 375, 513. 


which he was burned, on the sloping bank at Greenside, 1 has been rescued, only within 
the last year, from all profane associations, by the erection of the new Lady Glenorchy's 
Chapel thereon. The fall of this great master of the black art would seem to have been 
peculiarly fatal to its votaries ; as many as ten witches were burnt in the city during the 
.same year. 

In the following year, while the Palace of Holyrood was undergoing repair for the 
residence of the Duke of York, afterwards James VII., the unhappy prisoners taken at 
the battle of Bothwell Bridge were brought to Edinburgh, and the greater number of 
them confined for five mouths, during the most inclement season of the year, in the inner 
Greyfriars' Churchyard, that long narrow slip of ground, enclosed with an iron gate, which 
extends between the grounds of Heriot's Hospital and the old Poor's House. They were 
exposed there during the whole of that period, without any shelter from the weather; 
yet the whole of them remained faithful to their principles, although they could at once 
Imve procured their liberty by acknowledging the rising at Bothwell to have been 

In 1680, the Duke of York arrived in Edinburgh, as Commissioner from the King to 
the Scottish Parliament, along with his Duchess, Mary D'Este, daughter of the Duke of 
Modena, celebrated by Dryden and other wits of the time for her beauty. The Lady 
Anne, his daughter, afterwards Queen Anne, also accompanied him on this occasion, and 
greatly contributed, by her easy and affable manners, towards the popularity which he 
was so desirous to acquire. The previous vicegerents had rendered themselves peculiarly 
obnoxious to all classes, and thereby prepared the people the more readily to appreciate the 
urbanity of the Duke. " He behaved himself," says Bishop Burnet, " upon his first going 
to Scotland, in so obliging a manner, that the nobility and gentry, who had been so long 
trodden on by the Duke of Lauderdale, found a very sensible change ; so that he gained 
much on them all. It was visibly his interest to make that kingdom sure to him, and to 
give them such an essay of his government as might dissipate all hard thoughts of him, 
with which the world was possessed." 2 To the success with which he pursued this course 
of policy may be, to some extent, attributed the strong attachment which the Scottish 
nobility afterwards displayed to the House of Stuart, which led to the rebellions in 1715 
and 1745. 

The city spared no expense to welcome the Duke of York. A grand entertainment was 
provided for him in the Parliament House, which was fitted up at great expense for the 
occasion. The Duchess, the Lady Anne, and the principal nobles at the Scottish Court, 
were present on the occasion, and the expense of the banquet was upwards of 14,000 
Scottish money. 

During the Duke's residence at Edinburgh, a splendid court was kept at Holyrood 
1'alace. The rigid decorum of Scottish manners gradually gave way before the affability 
of such noble entertainers ; and the novel luxuries of the English Court formed an additional 
attraction to the Scottish grandees. Tea was introduced for the first time into Scotland 
on this occasion, and given by the Duchess, as a great treat to the Scottish ladies who 

1 Chambers's Minor Antiquities, p. 85. On the authority of " a gentleman who had the spot pointed out to him 
liy his father sixty years ago " (1833). 

2 Burnet's Hist., Edin. Ed., vol. ii. p. 322. 


visited at the Abbey. Balls, plays, and masquerades were likewise attempted, but the 
last proved too great an innovation on the rigid manners of that period to be tolerated. 
The most profane and vicious purposes were believed, by the vulgar, to be couched under 
such a system of disguise ; and this unpopular mode of entertainment had to be speedily 
abandoned. Plays, however, which were no less abhorrent to the people at that period, 
afforded a constant gratification to the courtiers, and were persisted in, notwithstanding 
the violent prejudices which they excited. The actors were regarded as part of the Duke of 
York's household ; and, if we may give any credit to the satirical account which Dryden 
has furnished of them, they were not among the most eminent of their profession. Some 
members of the company, it would seem, had gone to Oxford, according to annual custom, 
to assist in performing the public acts there. Dryden, with great humour, makes them 
apologise to the University for the thinness of the Company, by intimating that many 
of its members have crossed the Tweed, and are now nightly appearing before Edinburgh 
audiences, for the ambiguous fee of "two and sixpence Scots." He slyly insinuates, how- 
ever, that only the underlings of the company have gone north, leaving all its talent and 
character at the service of the University: 

Our brethren have from Thames to Tweed departed, 
To Edinborough gone, or coached or carted : 
With bonny blue cap there they act all night, 
For Scotch half-crowns, in English threepence hight. 
One nyinph, to whom fat Sir John Falstaff's leau, 
There with her single person fills the scene. 
Another, with long use and age decayed, 
Died here old woman, and rose there a maid. 
Our trusty door-keeper, of former time, 
There struts and swaggers in heroic rhime. 
Tack but a copper lace to drugget suit, 
And there's a hero made without dispute ; 
And that which was a capon's tale before, 
Becomes a plume for Indian Emperor. 
But all his subjects to express the care 
Of imitation, go, like Indian, bare ! ' 

The reader need hardly be reminded of the usual licence which the satiric poet 
claims as his privilege, and which his Grace's servants at Edinburgh may have 
retorted in equal measure on his Majesty's servants at Oxford, though no copy of 
their prologue has been preserved. It is not improbable, however, that the early Scottish 
theatre might merit some of the poet's sarcasms. The courtly guests of the royal Duke 
were probably too much taken up with the novelty of such amusements, and the 
condescending urbanity of their entertainers, to be very critical on the equipments of the 

These amusements were occasionally varied with the exhibition of masques at Court, in 
which the Lady Anne, and other noble young ladies, assumed the characters of gods and 
goddesses, and the like fanciful personages that usually figure in such entertainments. The 
gentlemen varied these pastimes with the games of tennis and golf. The Tennis Court, 
which also served as the first theatre for the Court, stood immediately without the Water 
Gate. It may be seen in Gordon's map, a large oblong building, occupying a considerable 

1 Dryden's Misc., vol. ii. 


portion of the ground between the old port and the building still known as Queen Mary's 
Bath, the intervening ground being then entirely unoccupied. After being devoted to the 
humble purpose of a weaver's workhouse, it was at length burnt to the ground, in the year 
1777. 1 

Leith Links was the usual scene of the Duke's trials of skill at golf. Many traditions 
still preserved prove his keen relish for this game, in which he is said to have become a 
proficient. " The Duke of York," says Tytler, " was frequently seen in a party at golf on 
the Links at Leith, with some of the nobility and gentry. I remember, in my youth, to 
have often conversed with an old man, named Andrew Dixou, a golf club-maker, who 
said that, when a boy, he used to carry the Duke's golf clubs, and to run before him and 
announce where the ball fell." 

The general harmony of the Court of Holyrood, during the visit of the Duke of York, 
was, however, occasionally interrupted by other annoyances besides those occasioned by the 
struggles of the Covenanters. 

A custom had long prevailed in Edinburgh, of annually burning the Pope in effigy on 
Christmas-day ; but the magistrates, justly conceiving that such a procedure was calculated 
to afford little satisfaction to the Duke, determined to prevent its recurrence during his 
stay in Edinburgh. The populace, however, were not then impressed with such awe for 
civic enactments as the modern system of police has since produced. The students of the 
College took up the matter, and bound themselves by a solemn oath to effect the incre- 
mation of his Holiness in defiance of both Duke and magistrates. The military were called 
out to put a stop to their proceedings, and some of the most active ringleaders taken 
captive ; but the populace rose in defence of the students, and finished the day's work 
by burning the Provost's house at Priestfield to the ground. The students, as the most 
zealous movers in this tumult, were first visited with the wrath of offended authority. The 
college gates were ordered to be closed, and the collegians to remove to the distance of 
fifteen miles from the city; but the excitement after a time abated, and they were again 
restored to their wonted privileges. 

In 1682, the famous old cannon, Mons Meg, was burst in firing a salute in honour of 
the Duke of York, shortly before his return to England. The Duke took his departure in 
great state in the month of May, leaving the citizens of Edinburgh to resume their quiet 
decorum, unseduced by the example of the Court. The older gentry of the last age con- 
tinued to cherish a pleasing remembrance of his visit, and to tell, with great delight, of 
the gaiety and brilliancy of the court at Holyrood House. 

The intelligence of the death of Charles II. reached Edinburgh on the 6th of February 
1685. The Chancellor and other officers of state, with the Privy Council, the lords of session, 
the magistrates, and many of the chief nobility, proceeded to the Cross, accompanied by the 
Lyon King-at-Arms, and his heralds, and proclaimed James Duke of York, King of Great 
Britain. In April, on the assembling of Parliament, an act was passed for the confirmation 
of the Protestant religion, and fresh tests enacted for its protection ; but the actions of the 
King showed little respect for such laws, and much excitement was occasioned by proceed- 
ings that were generally believed to be preparatory to the subversion of the Protestant 

1 Arnot, p. 195. 2 ArcliEelogia Scotica, vol. i. p. 50 1. 


In consequence of this, a popular tumult was excited ; a rabble of apprentices and 
others watched the return of some of the chief officers of state from public attendance at 
mass. The Chancellor's lady, and other persons of distinction, were insulted, and the 
utmost indignation excited in the minds of these dignitaries against the populace. A 
baker, who had been active in the riot, was apprehended and tried before the Privy Council. 
He was condemned to be publicly whipped through the Canongate ; but the populace 
rescued him from punishment, chastised the executioner, and kept the town in a state of 
uproar and commotion throughout the night. The military were at length called out, and 
fired on the rioters, by which three of them lost their lives. Two others were apprehended 
and afterwards convicted, seemingly on very insufficient evidence, one of whom was hanged 
and the other shot. 

In July 1687, the King wrote to the Privy Council "that the Abbey Church was the 
chapel belonging to his Palace of Holyrood House, and that the Knights of the noble Order 
of the Thistle, which he had now erected, could not meet in St Andrew's Church, 1 being 
demolished in the rebellion, as they called our Reformation, and so it was necessary for 
them to have this church ; and the Provost of Edinburgh was ordained to see the keys of 
it given to them." 2 Some opposition was made to this by the Bishop of Edinburgh, but 
it was agreed to with little difficulty, and the inhabitants of the Canongate, whose parish 
church it had been, were ordered to seek accommodation in Lady Tester's Church, till 
better could be provided. The Canongate Church was shortly afterwards built from funds 
that had been left by Thomas Moodie, a citizen of Edinburgh) for the purpose of providing 
an additional place of worship. 

Holyrood Chapel was now magnificently fitted up with richly carved stalls for the 
Knights of the Thistle. " An altar, vestments, images, priests, and their apurtents," 
arrived at Leith, by the King's yacht, from London, for the purpose of completing the 
restoration of the Abbey to its ancient uses. A college of priests was established in Holy- 
rood, and daily service performed in the Chapel. Fresh riots were the consequence of this 
last procedure, and two of those who had been most zealous in testifying their abhorrence 
of such religious innovations, were executed, while others were publicly whipped through 
the streets. 

The fall of the ancient house of the Stuarts was now rapidly approaching. The feeble 
representative of that long line of Kings was already anticipating an invasion from Hol- 
land ; in the month of September 1688, orders were issued for raising the militia, and 
these were speedily followed by others for erecting beacons along the coast. But James, 
who. by his rashness, had forced on the crisis, was the first to desert his own cause ; and 
the Scottish Parliament, with more consistency than that of England, availed themselves 
of this to declare that he had forfeited the throne. 

The news of the arrival of the Prince of Orange filled the Presbyterian party in Scotland 
with the utmost joy. The Earl of Perth, who was Chancellor, hastily quitted Edinburgh, 
and the mob made it the signal for an attack on Holyrood Chapel. A body of an 
hundred men defended it with firearms, which they freely used against their assailants, 
killing twelve of them, and wounding many more. . But this only increased the fury of the 
mob ; the armed defenders were at length overpowered, and the Chapel delivered up to 

1 i.e., The Cathedral of St Andrews. 2 Fountainhall, vol. i. p. 466. 


their will. The magnificent carved stalls, which had just been completed, and all the costly 
fittings of the Chapel were devoted to destruction, and the fine old fabric only abandoned 
when its newly-completed decorations had been reduced to an unsightly heap of ruins. 

Other acts of violence were perpetrated by the rioters ; and the students again testified 
their zeal, by marching in triumphal procession to the Cross, with bands of music, and the 
College mace borne before them, and there again burning the effigy of the Pope. 

On the assembly of the Parliament, the Bishop of Edinburgh prayed for the welfare 
and restoration of King James, and the Episcopal body generally maintained their fidelity to 
the exiled Prince, the well-known consequence of which was the restoration of Presbytery 
as the national religion, and the expulsion of the recently-created Bishops from their sees. 

On the lltli of April 1688, William and Mary were proclaimed at the Cross, King 
and Queen of Scotland. The Castle was still held by the Duke of Gordon for King 
James, while Viscount Dundee, after a brief conference with its commander, in which he 
endeavoured to induce the Duke to accompany him to the Highlands, engaged him to 
hold out that fortification, while he went north to raise the friends of the King. The 
citizens were filled with the utmost alarm at the news of this interview. The drums beat 
to arms, and a body of troops, which the Duke of Hamilton had quartered in the city, was 
called out to pursue Dundee, but no serious consequences resulted ; and the Duke of 
Gordon, being almost destitute of provisions, at length yielded up the Castle on the 13th 
of June 1689, the last considerable place of strength that had remained in the interest of 
the exiled Monarch. 

In 1 695, the grand national project of the Darien expedition was set on foot, and a 
company formed for establishing a settlement on the Isthmus of Darien, and fitting out 
ships to trade with Africa and the Indies. The highest anticipations were excited by this 
project. The sum of 400,000 sterling was speedily subscribed, and a numerous body 
embarked for the new settlement. When intelligence reached Edinburgh of the company 
having effected a landing at Darien, and successfully repelled the attacks of the Spaniards, 
thanksgivings were offered up in all the churches, and a general illumination made 
throughout the city. The mob further testified their joy, by securing the city ports ; and 
then setting fire to the Old Tolbooth door, they liberated the prisoners incarcerated for 
printing seditious publications. 

The indignation of the populace was no less vehement on the failure of this national 
project than their joy at its first success. The prison was again forcibly opened, the 
windows of all obnoxious citizens were broken ; and such violence was shown, that the 
Commissioner and officers of state were compelled to leave the city for some days, to escape 
the vengeance of the infuriated multitude. 

The Old Darien House still stands l within the extended line of the city wall, near the 
Bristo Port, a melancholy and desolate looking memorial of that unfortunate enterprise. It 
is a substantial and somewhat handsome structure, in the French style, and with the curious 
high-pitched roof which prevailed in the reign of William III. It has more recently been 
abandoned to the purposes of a pauper lunatic asylum, and is popularly known by the name 
of Bedlam. A melancholy association attaches to a more modern portion of it towards the 

The Darien House was entirely demolished in 1871 ; and its site is now occupied by several blocks of buildings, 
on the walls of one of which is a tablet indicating svhere it stood. 


south, as having been the scene where poor Ferguson, that unhappy child of genius, so 
wretchedly terminated his brief career. The building bears, on an ornamented tablet above 
the main entrance, the date 1698, surmounted by a sun-dial. The only relic of its original 
grandeur that has survived its adaptation to later purposes, is a handsome and very 
substantial stone balustrade, which guards the broad flight of steps leading to the first 

A remarkable course of events followed on the failure of the Darien scheme, attended 
with riots of the same desperate character as those commonly perpetrated by the populace of 
Edinburgh when under the influence of unusual excitement. In 1702, a vessel belonging 
to the East India Company, which entered the Frith of Forth, was seized by the Scottish 
Government, by way of reprisal, for the unjust detention in the Thames of one belonging to 
the Scottish African Company. In the course of a full and legal trial, the captain and 
crew were convicted, in a very singular manner, of piracy and murder committed on the 
mate and crew of a Scottish vessel in the East Indies. The evidence, however, appeared to 
some influential parties insufficient to justify their condemnation, and the utmost excite- 
ment was created by attempts to procure a pardon for them. 

The report having been circulated that a reprieve had been granted, the mob assaulted 
the Lord Chancellor while passing the Tron Church in his carriage, on his return from 
the Privy Council. The windows were immediately smashed, the Chancellor dragged out, 
and thrown upon the street ; and he was rescued with great difficulty from the infuriated 
multitude by an armed body of his friends. The tumult was only appeased at last by the 
public execution of the seamen. 

In the Parliament which assembled in June 1705, the first steps were taken in Scot- 
land with a view to the Union between the two kingdoms. The period was peculiarly 
unfavourable for the accomplishment of a project against which so many prejudices were 
arrayed. The popular mind was already embittered by antipathies and jealousies excited 
by the recent failure of the favourite scheme of colonisation, and the plan for a Union 
was almost universally regarded as an attempt to sacrifice their independence, and establish 

VIGNETTE The Darieu House. 


English supremacy. No sooner, therefore, were the articles made public, in the month of 
October 1706, than a universal clamour and uproar ensued. The outer Parliament House 
and the adjoining square were crowded with an excited multitude, who testified their 
displeasure at the Duke of Queensberry, the Commissioner, and all who favoured the 
Union. On the 23d of the month, the populace proceeded to more violent acts of 
hostility against the promoters of the scheme. They attacked the house of Sir Patrick 
Johnston, their representative in Parliament, formerly a great favourite when Provost of 
the city, and he narrowly escaped falling a victim to their fury. From this they proceeded 
to other acts of violence, till they had the city completely at their mercy, and were only 
prevented blocking up the ports by the Duke ordering out the military to take possession 
of the Nether Bow Port, and other of the most important points in the city. 

The Commissioner, and all who abetted him, were kept in terror of their lives. Three 
regiments of foot were on constant duty; guards were stationed in the Parliament Close and 
the Weigh-house, as well as at the Nether Bow ; a strong battalion protected the Abbey ; 
a troop of horse-guards regularly attended the Commissioner, and none but members were 
allowed to enter the Parliament Close towards evening, on such days as the house was 
sitting. His Grace, the Commissioner, walked from the Parliament House, between 
a double file of musketeers to his coach, which waited at the Cross ; and he was driven 
from thence at full gallop to his residence at the Palace, hooted, cursed, and pelted lay the 

The mob were fully as zealous in the demonstration of their good will as of their 
displeasure. The Duke of Hamilton, whose apartments were also in the Palace, was an 
especial object of favour, and was nightly escorted down the Canongate by several hundreds 
of them cheering him, and commending his fidelity. It was on one of these occasions, after 
seeing the Duke home, that the excited rabble proceeded to the house of the city member, 
when he so narrowly escaped their fury. 1 Fortunately, however, for Scotland the popular 
clamour was unavailing for the purpose of preventing the Union of the two kingdoms, though 
the corrupt means by which many of the votes in Parliament were secured, was sufficient 
to have justified any amount of distrust and opposition. A curious ornamental summer- 
house is pointed out in the pleasure grounds attached to Moray House, in the Canongate, 
where the commissioners at length assembled to affix their signatures to the Treaty of Union. 
But the mob, faithful to the last in their resolution to avert what was then regarded as the 
surrender of national independence, pursued them to this retired rendezvous, and that 
important national act is believed to have been finally signed and sealed in a " laigh shop," 
or cellar, No. 177 High Street, nearly opposite to the Tron Church. 2 This interesting 
locality, which still remains, had formed one of the chief haunts of the unionists during the 
progress of that measure, and continued to be known, almost to our own day, by the name 
of the Union Cellar. On the 16th of January 1707, the Scottish Parliament assembled for 
the last time in its old hall in the Parliament Close, and having finally adjusted the Articles 
of Union, it was dissolved by the Duke of Queensberry, the King's Commissioner, never 
again to meet as a National Assembly. 

The general discontent which resulted from this measure, and the irritation produced by 

1 Lockhart's Mera., 1799, p. 222-229. Smollett's Hist., p. 469. Arnot, p. 189. 

2 Tales of a Grandfather, vol. vi. p. 327. 


the presence of a host of English tax-gatherers who speedily thereafter overran the whole 
of Scotland, were mainly influential in directing anew the thoughts of the people to the 
exiled family of the Stuarts. Edinburgh, however, took no share in the rising of 1715. 
The magistrates exerted themselves to put the city in an effective state of defence. The 
walls and gates were immediately repaired and fortified. The sluice at the east end of the 
North Loch was dammed up, and trenches made at various accessible points. The city- 
guard was augmented, the trained bands armed, and four hundred men ordered to be raised 
and maintained at the city's expense. 

These measures saved the capital from any concern in this rash enterprise, beyond an 
ineffectual attempt upon the Castle. A party of the insurgents marched towards Edin- 
burgh, but finding it in vain to attempt an assault, they repaired to Leith, and fortified the 
citadel. This they were speedily compelled to evacuate, on the approach of the Duke of 
Argyle's forces ; and after a feeble struggle, this ill-concerted rising was suppressed, and 
tranquillity restored to the country. 

The year 1736 is rendered memorable in the annals of the city by the famous Porteous 
mob. The accounts already furnished of some of the more serious tumults that have 
from time to time occurred in the Scottish capital, must have sufficed to show the daring 
character of the populace, and their hearty co-operation in any such deed of violence. Yet 
the cool and determined manner in which this act of popular vengeance was effected has 
probably never been equalled. 

The incidents of this remarkable transaction have been rendered so familiar by the 
striking narrative of Scott (in all its most important features strictly true), that a very 
hasty sketch will suffice. Captain John Porteous, the commander of the city-guard, having 
occasion to quell some disturbances at the execution of one Wilson, a smuggler, rashly 
ordered his soldiers to fire among the crowd, by which six were killed, and eleven wounded, 
including females, and some of the spectators from the neighbouring windows. Porteous 
was tried and condemned for murder, but reprieved by Queen Caroline, who was then acting 
as Regent, in the absence of her husband, George II., at Hanover. 

TTie people, who had regarded Wilson in the light of a victim to the oppressive excise 
laws and other fruits of the hated Union, were exasperated at the pardon of one who had 
murdered so many of their fellow-citizens, and determined that he should not escape. Many 
people, it is said, assembled from the country to join in the enterprise. The leaders of the 
mob were disguised in various ways, some of them in female attire. They surprised the 
town-guard, armed themselves with their weapons, and then forcing the door of the Tol- 
booth, by setting it on fire, they dragged from thence the unhappy object of their vengeance, 
and led him to the scene of his crime, the ordinary place of execution, in the Grassmarket. 
It was intended at first to have erected the gallows and executed him there with greater 
formality, but the ringleaders found this project attended with too serious a loss of time, 
and he was hastily suspended from a dyer's pole, over the entrance to Hunter's Close, in 
the south-east corner of the Grassmarket. As soon as their purpose was effected, the 
rioters threw away their weapons and quietly dispersed. 

Notwithstanding the most searching investigations instituted, and the imprisonment 
of various parties on suspicion of being concerned in this violent deed, no person was con- 
victed for it, and no discovery ever made concerning any of its perpetrators. The order, 


regularity, and determined resolution with which it was effected, as well as the secrecy so 
successfully maintained, led to the supposition that its leaders must have been of a higher 
rank than those usually concerned in popular tumults ; but recent disclosures restin- on 
the authority of an intelligent old man, have revealed the chief agent in this dariuo- act 
of popular vengeance. Alexander Richmond, according to the narrator, was the son of 
a respectable nurseryman at Foulbriggs, near the West Port. Pie was bred a baker, and 
about the time of the Porteous mob, was a wild and daring lad, who took a prominent 
share in all the riotings of the period. On the night of Porteous's execution, he was sent 
early to bed, and deprived of his clothes by his father, who dreaded that his son, as usual, 
would involve himself in the turbulent movements that were threatened. But the lad gut 
hold of his sister's clothes, and making his escape by a window, joined the mob and took 
a prominent part in breaking into the Tolbooth, and in all their other proceedings. OH 
the passage of the rioters down the West Bow, he entered a shop, from the counter of 
which he lifted a coil of rope, and threw down a half guinea he had brought out with him. 
With this the wretched Porteous was suspended from the dyer's pole ; and immediately 
thereafter Richmond returned by the West Port to his father's house. Proclamations 
were issued against him at the time as a suspected party, on which he went to sea, and 
after an absence of many years, he returned to Leith, and became master of a merchant 

Richmond disclosed his share in the Porteous mob to a few trustworthy friends, among 
whom was the narrator of this account. He made money in his new mode of life, and his 
heirs, in the female line, are still alive. 1 

Queen Caroline was highly exasperated on learning of this act of contempt for her 
exercise of the royal prerogative. The Lord Provost was imprisoned, and not admitted to 
bail for three weeks. A bill was brought into Parliament, and carried through the House 
of Lords, for incapacitating him from ever holding any magisterial office in Great Britain, 
and for confining him in prison a full year. This bill also enacted the demolition of the 
Nether Bow Port, and the disbanding of the city-guard. The Scottish members, however, 
serted themselves effectually in opposing this unjust measure when it was sent down to 
the House of Commons, and by their means it was shorn of its most objectionable clauses 
and the whole commuted to a fine of 2000, imposed on the city for behalf of the Captain's 
widow. Even when thus modified, the bill was only carried by the casting vote of the 
chairman, and Porteous's widow, on account of previous favours shown her by the maois- 
trates, accepted of 1500 in full. 

_ From this period, till the eventful year 1745, nothing remarkable occurs in the history 
Edinburgh. On the report of the landing of Prince Charles, the city-guard was increased 
and a portion of the royal forces brought into the neighbourhood of the city. The town 
walls were hastily repaired, and ditches thrown up for additional defence. Upon the ap- 
proach of the Prince's forces, which had crossed the Forth above Stirling, the Kin-'s troop, 
along with the city-guard, were posted at Corstorphine and Coltbridge, and a volunteer force 
was raised to aid in repelling the rebels. But citizens aud soldiers were alike lukewarm in 

Banovenan cause, or terror-stricken at the sight of the Highland host. The whole 
d precipitately on their appearance, and communicated such a panic to the citizens. 

1 Illustrations of Geikie's Etchinge, p. 8. 


that, when they were assembled in St Giles's Church, and it was debated whether they 
should stand on their defence or not, only three or four voices answered in the affirmative. 
But while the citizens were still undetermined as to the terms of capitulation, the Nether 
Bow Port was unwarily opened to let a coach pass out, on which a party of Highlanders, 
who had reached the gate undiscovered, immediately rushed in and secured the city, took 
possession of the guard-house, and seized on the arms and ammunition belonging to the 

The young Chevalier speedily followed this advance guard. The Highland army en- 
camped in the royal park, in the neighbourhood of Duddingston, and the Chevalier himself 
took possession of Holyrood Palace. The heralds were required to publish at the Market 
Cross the commission of Regency which the Prince had received from his father, ami 
which was accordingly done with all the usual ceremonies attending royal proclamations. 
Multitudes of the inhabitants now flocked to the neighbouring camp, attracted by the 
novelty of the sight, or their favour to the cause of the Stuarts, while the Palace was 
crowded by numbers of the better class of citizens, who hastened to testify their fidelity 
to the exiled family. 

They were received by the Prince with the utmost aifability and condescension ; but this 
did not prevent him issuing an order, requiring the inhabitants of the town and county of 
Edinburgh to deliver up their arms at the Palace, and the city to furnish a great variety of 
stores for the use of the army, under pain of military execution in case of failure. The 
supplies were furnished accordingly, and the city gratified with the Prince's gracious pro- 
mise of payment, so soon as the troubles should be over. The Castle, however, was held 
by General Guest, a stanch adherent of the Government, and on the Highlanders appearing 
in the city, he displayed the flag, and fired some cannon to warn them not to approach the 

The Highlanders, thus amply supplied, marched to Preston, about nine miles to the 
eastward of the capital, where they defeated and put to rout the royal forces, under the 
command of Sir John Cope. The dragoons fled from the field without halting till they 
reached Linlithgow. Their baggage, artillery, and military chests all fell into the Prince's 
hands, who returned to the Palace of Holyrood in triumph. Notwithstanding the irregular 
character of the Highland army, they behaved, in general, with great order and moderation ; 
and such was the simplicity of the poor Highlanders, even in rapine, that it is said some of 
them presented their pieces at passengers, and on being asked what they wanted, replied, 
" a penny " with which they went away perfectly satisfied. 1 

The Prince intimated, on his return to Edinburgh, that the ministers should have full 
liberty to continue their usual duties on the following day, which was Sunday, the only 
requirement being, that, in the prayers for the royal family, no names should be 

Only one of the city ministers, named Hogg, availed himself of this permission, and 
lectured in the forenoon in the Tron Church. But the Rev. Neil M'Vicar of St Cuthbert's 
was of the true old covenanting metal, and not to be intimidated by the near neighbour- 
hood of the Jacobite forces. He sent word to the commander of the Castle of his intention 
to continue the usual services of the day, and proceeded to his pulpit at the appointed hour. 

1 Scots Mag., vol. vii. p 442. 


The church was crowded with an unusually numerous auditory, among whom he recog- 
nised many Jacobites, as well as a number of the Highland soldiers, attracted by the report 
of his intentions, and the knowledge of his intrepid character. He prayed, as usual, for 
King George, by name, and then added," And as for this young man who has come 
among us seeking an earthly crown, we beseech thee that he may obtain what is far better, 
a heavenly one ! " When this was reported to Prince Charles he is said to have laughed, 
and expressed himself highly pleased at the courage and charity of the worthy 
minister. 1 

For some days after the Battle of Prestonpans, the communication between the town 
and the Castle remained uninterrupted. But the Highlanders, who kept guard at the 
Weigh-house, having received orders to prevent all further intercourse with the fortress, the 
governor, retaliated by threatening to cannonade the town. Messengers were immediately 
despatched by the Lord Provost to the Palace, informing the Prince of the danger the city 
was exposed to; but the governor having waited in vain for a favourable answer, a severe 
cannonading at last took place, killing and wounding several of the inhabitants, besides 
damaging many of the houses nearest the Castle, and spreading such consternation through 
the town, that a great portion of the citizens were prepared for immediate flight. The 
consequences that were apprehended from such proceedings were, however, happily averted 
by a proclamation of the Prince, declaring the infinite regret he felt at the many murders 
committed on the inhabitants by the commander of the garrison, and that he had ordered 
the blockade of the Castle to be taken off, and the threatened punishment of his enemies to 
be suspended, when he found that thereby innocent lives could be saved. Shortly after 
this the Prince left Edinburgh, on his route to England, at the head of an army of about 
five thousand men ; from thence he was followed, on his return northward, by the Duke 
of Cumberland, who, on his arrival in Edinburgh, occupied the same apartments in the 
Palace which had so recently been appropriated to the use of the Prince; and during his 
stay there, the paintings of the Scottish monarchs, in the great gallery, were slashed and 
otherwise greatly defaced by the English soldiers. 

After the final overthrow of the Highland army at Culloden, a species of triumph was 
exhibited in Edinburgh, in full accordance with the magnanimity of the Duke, who claimed 
the entire credit of a victory, achieved rather by the policy of Duncan Forbes of Culloden. 
Fourteen of the standards that had been taken from the insurgents were burnt at the Market 
Cross with every mark of contempt. They were ignominiously carried thither by chimney 
sweepers, the Prince's own standard being particularly distinguished by being borne by 
the common hangman ; and as each was thrown into the fire, the heralds proclaimed the 
names of the commanders to whom they had belonged ! 

The usual election of magistrates having been prevented by the presence of the Hi-li- 
land army in Edinburgh, they were chosen in the following year by virtue of a royal man- 
date, and the newly-elected Council testified their loyalty to the Hanoverian dynasty by 
voting the freedom of the city to the Duke of Cumberland, and presenting to him the charter 
of citizenship in a massive gold box, embossed with the city arms outside, and having the 
Duke's own arms, with a suitable inscription, engraved within. 

The overthrow of the adherents of Prince Charles was followed up by fines, imprison- 

1 Hist, of the West Kirk, p. 119. 


nieut, and confiscation to many of the most active leaders in the movement, and a general 
persecution of " Papists, Jacobites, Episcopals, and disaffected persons." Archibald Stewart, 
the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, was regarded with peculiar jealousy, on account of the 
city having fallen into the hands of the Highland army, without resistance, or any attempt 
at defence. He endured a long and severe trial, in which it was shown that the great 
extent, and very dilapidated condition of the walls, as well as the manifest lukewarmness of 
a large portion of the inhabitants towards the reigning family, rendered the defence of the 
town, for any length of time, against a victorious army, quite impossible. The trial lasted 
from the 27th of October till the 2d of November, when the Provost was acquitted by a 
unanimous verdict of the jury. This was regarded as a triumph by the Jacobite party, and 
a public meeting was summoned to assemble on the following evening in the Baxter's 
Hall; but the magistrates took alarm at the proposal, and the meeting was summarily 
interdicted, as calculated to destroy the prestige of the triumphant bonfire so recently 
kindled at the Cross. 

The house of Provost Stewart was a very curious old building in the West Bow, with 
its main entrance at the foot of Donaldson's Close. It was only one story high, in 
addition to the attics, on the north side, while on the south it presented a lofty front 
to the Bow. This building stood immediately to the west of Free St John's Church ; 
it is described by Chambers 1 as being of singular construction, and as full of curious little 
rooms, concealed closets, and secret stairs, as any house that ever had the honour of being 
haunted. The north wall, which still remains built into the range of shops forming the 
new terrace, stood long exposed to view, affording abundant evidence of this. Little 
closets and recesses are excavated, almost like a honey-comb, out of the solid rock behind, 
many of which, however, have been built up in adapting it to its new purpose. " In 
one of the rooms," says Chambers, " there was a little cabinet about three feet high, 
which any one, not acquainted with the mysterious arcana of ancient houses, would suppose 
to be a cupboard. Nevertheless, under this modest, simple, and unassuming disguise, 
was concealed a thing of no less importance and interest than a trap stair." 2 This 
ingeniously-contrived passage communicated behind with the West Bow, and, according 
to the same authority, it was said to have afforded, on one occasion, a safe and unsuspected 
exit to Prince Charles and some of his principal officers, who were enjoying the hospitality 
of the Jacobitical Provost, when an alarm was given that a troop of the enemy, from 
the Castle, were coming down the Close to seize them. This curious building derives an 
additional interest from its last occupant, James Donaldson, the wealthy printer, from 
whose bequest the magnificent hospital that bears his name has been erected at the west 
end of the town. 

Our historical sketch of the ancient capital of Scotland has mainly embraced the period 
during which the Stuart race filled the throne, and made it the arena of many of the most 
prominent incidents in their history ; and with this closing scene in the narrative of their 
illustrious line, our historic Memorials of the Olden Time may fitly end. The associa- 
tions with which the local antiquites of Edinburgh still abound, will afford a fitting oppor- 
tunity for treating of incidents and characters of a later date, that are worthy of our notice, 

1 Chambers's Traditions, vol. i. p. 143. Ibid, vol. i. p. 144. 


as well as for a more detailed consideration of some of those that have already been alluded 
to iu this introductory sketch. 

The appearance which Edinburgh presented at this period, as well as the character and 
manners of its inhabitants, cannot be readily realised by those of the present generation. 
Its general features had undergone little change since the departure of the Court to Eng- 
land in 1G03. The extended wall, erected in the memorable year 1513, still formed the 
boundary of the city, with the exception of the enclosure of the High Riggs, as already 
described, on the south. The ancient gates remained kept under the care of jealous 
warders and nightly closed at an early hour ; even as when the dreaded inroads of the 
Southron, with fire and sword, summoned the burgher watch to guard their walls. At the 
foot of the High Street, the lofty tower and spire of the Nether Bow Port terminated the 
vista, surmounting the old Temple Bar of Edinburgh, interposed between the city and the 
ancient burgh of Canongate. 

This handsome structure was rebuilt in its latest form in the year 1606, directly in 
a line with St Mary's and Leith Wynds, and about fifty yards further eastward than the 
second erection already mentioned. It was by far the most conspicuous and important 
of the six gates which gave access to the ancient capital, and was regarded as an object in 
the maintenance and protection of which the honour of the city was so deeply involved, 
that, as we have seen, its demolition was one of the penalties by which the government 
sought to revenge the slight put upon the royal prerogative by the Porteous mob. In 
style of architecture, it bore considerable resemblance to the ancient Porte St Honore of 
Paris, as represented in old engravings ; and it is exceedingly probable that it was 
constructed in imitation of some of the old gates of that capital, between which and 
Edinburgh so constant an intercourse was maintained, at a somewhat earlier period than 
the date of its erection. 

When the destruction of this, the main port of the city, was averted by the strenuous 
patriotic exertions of the Scottish peers and members of Parliament, it was regarded as a 
national triumph ; but, unhappily, towards the middle of the last century, a perfect mania 
seized the civic rulers throughout the kingdom, for sweeping away all the old rubbish, as 
the ancient fabrics that adorned the principal towns were contemptuously styled. The 
Common Council of London set the example by obtaining an Act of Parliament, in 1760, 
to remove their city gates ; and, only four years afterwards, the Town Council of Edinburgh 
demolished the Nether Bow, one of the chief ornaments of the city, which, had it been 
preserved, would have been now regarded as a peculiarly interesting relic of the olden time. 
The ancient clock, which was removed from the tower, was afterwards placed in that of the 
old Orphan's Hospital, and continued there till the demolition of the latter building in 

It is worthy of remark, however, that the destruction of this stately structure was not 
the earliest symptom of improved taste in our civic dignitaries. Their first step towards 
" enlarging and beautifying " the city, was the removal of the ancient Cross, an ornamental 
structure, possessed of the most interesting local and national associations. The lower part 
of it was an octagonal building of a mixed style of architecture, rebuilt in the year 1617, 
in the form, already represented. 1 In its reconstruction, the chief ornaments of the 

1 Ante, p. 33. 


ancient building had been preserved; the heads, in basso relievo, which surmounted seven 
of the arches, have been referred, by eminent antiquaries, to the remote era of the lower 
empire. Four of these were placed by Mr Walter Ross, in his tower at Deanhangh, 
and on its demolition in 1814, they were secured by Sir Walter Scott, along with a large 
shallow stone basin, which served as the fountain from whence wine was distributed at the 
Cross on occasions of festivity. All of these objects are now among the antiquities at 

The ancient pillar which surmounted the octagonal 
building, has been described by Arnot, 1 and most of his 
successors, as a " column consisting of one stone up- 
wards of twenty feet high, spangled with thistles, and 
adorned with a Corinthian capital." It is still preserved 
on the Drum estate, near Edinburgh, whither it was 
removed by Lord Somerville in 1756, but it in no way 
corresponds with this description. 2 It is an octagonal 
gothic pillar, built of separate stones, held together bj r 
iron clamps, with a remarkably beautiful gothic capital, 
consisting of dragons with their heads and tails inter- 
twined, and surmounted by a battlemented top, on 
which the unicorn was formerly seated, holding an iron 

From this ancient edifice, royal proclamations, mid 
the more solemn denunciations of the law, were an- 
nounced ; and here also the chief pageants were dis- 
played on occasions of public rejoicings. Before the art 
of printing was invented, all Acts of Parliament, and other 
matters of public interest were published from it to tbe 
people, and from thence also the mimic heralds of the 
unseen world, cited the gallant James and the nation's 
chivalry to the domains of Pluto, immediately before the Battle of Flodden. 

No incident in history appears to us more strongly to mark the perversion of taste, and 
the total absence of the wholesome spirit of veneration, that prevailed during the eighteenth 
century, than the demolition of this most interesting national monument. The love of 
destructiveuess could alone instigate the act, for its site was in the widest part of the High 
Street, at a time when the Luckenbooths narrowed the upper part of that thorough fare to 
half its breadth, and immediately below it stood the guard-house, " a long, low, ugly build- 
ing, which, to a fanciful imagination, might have suggested the idea of a long black snail 
crawling up the middle of the High Street, and deforming its beautiful esplanade." 3 No 
such haste, however, was shown in removing this unsightly building. Its deformity gave no 
offence to civic taste, and it continued to encumber the street till near the close of the cen- 
tury. Propositions have been made at various times for the restoration of the City Cross. 

1 Aruot, p. 303. a Restored in front of St Giles's Cathedral, 1869. 

3 Heart of Mid-Lothian, vol. i. p. 247. 
VIO.NKTTK The Capital of tlie City 


We shall only add, that until our civic rulers manifest, by some such act, a regard for the 
monuments of antiquity committed to their care, they must take their unenviable share in 
the minstrel's curse : 

Dun Edin's Cross, a pillar'd stone, 

Rose on a turret octagon ; 

But now is razed that monument, 

Whence royal edict rang, 
Aud voice of Scotland's law was sent 

In glorious trumpet clang. 
Oh ! be his tomb as lead to lead, 
Upon its dull destroyer's head ! 
A minstrel's malison is said. 1 

Large portions of the city wall have been demolished from time to time, owing to the 
extension of the town and the many alterations that have been made on the older portions 
of it, so that only a few scattered fragments remain. These, however, are sufficient to show 
the nature of the ancient fortifications. No part of the earliest wall, erected under the 
charter of James II., in 1450, is now visible, if we except the fine old ruin of the Well- 
house tower, at the base of the Castle rock, which formed a strong protection at that 
point where the overhanging cliff might have otherwise enabled an enemy to approach under 
its shelter. A fragment of this wall, about fifty feet long and twenty feet in height, was 
found in 1832, about ten feet south from the Advocates' Library, 2 when digging for the 
foundations of a new lock-up-house, in connection with the Parliament House; and, in 

1845, another considerable por- 
tion was disclosed to the east 
of this, on the site of the old 
Parliament Stairs, in making 
the more recent additions to 
the same building. Both of 
these fragments have been 
closed over by the new build- 
ings, and may in all proba- 

bility continue to exist for 
centuries. The next addition 
to the fortifications of the 
city is the well-known Flodden 
wall, reared, as already de- 
scribed, by the terrified citizens 
in 1513. 3 Of this there still 
remains the large portion form- 
ing the north side of Drummond Street ; an interesting little fragment at the back of 
the Society, at Bristo Port, curiously pierced for windows and other openings ; and, 
lastly, the old tower in the Vennel, already alluded to, which, thanks to the zealous 
efforts of Dr Neill, has been preserved from destruction, when the Town Council had 
already pronounced its doom as 'a useless encumbrance. We furnish a view of its in- 

1 MarmioD, canto v. v. 25. 2 Minor Antiquities, p. 73. ' Ante, p. 35. 

VIGNETTE Interior of the Tower in the Vennel. 


terior, with the embrasures and loop-holes, as it appeared before the erection of the In- 
fant School there. 

We have already mentioned the erection of the wall in Leith Wynd, a considerable 
portion of which still remains, by virtue of an Act of Parliament in 1540. 1 Maitland 
describes another addition in 1560, extending from thence to the end of the North Loch, 
at the foot of Halkerston's Wynd. 2 The southern wall of the west wing of Trinity Hospital 
included part of this ancient defence. It stood about six feet south from the present 
retaining wall of the North British Railway, in the Physic Gardens, 3 and was a piece of 
such substantial masonry, that its demolition, in 1845, was attended with great labour, 
requiring the use of wedges to break up the solid mass. In 1591, the citizens were 
empowered, by Parliament, to raise money on all lands and rents within Edinburgh, towards 
strengthening the town, by an addition of height and thickness to its walls, with forcing 
places, bulwarks, or flankers, &c. ;* and finally, the Common Council having, in 1618, 
bought from Tours of Innerleith ten acres of land at the Greyfriars' Port, they immediately 
ordered it to be enclosed with a wall, a considerable portion of which forms the western 
boundary of the Heriot's Hospital grounds. It only remains to be added, that the last 
attempt made to render these walls an effective defence, was in the memorable year 1745 ; 
with how little success has already been narrated. From the evidence brought out in the 
course of Provost Stewart's trial, they seem to have been, at that period, in a most ruinous 
condition, and it is improbable that any efforts were made after that to stay their further 

The changes wrought upon the town itself during the same period are no less remark- 
able. Owing to its peculiar situation, crowning the ridge of the hill, on the highest point 
of which the Castle is perched, and sloping off to the low grounds on either side, its limits 
seemed to our ancestors to be defined almost beyond the possibility of enlargement. The 
only approach to the main street, from the west, previous to the commencement of the 
North Bridge, in 1765, was up the steep and crooked thoroughfare of the West Bow, by 
which kings and nobles so often entered in state, and from thence it extended, in unbroken 
continuity to St Mary's and Leith Wynds. The remainder of the street, through the 
Caiiongate, has fortunately, as yet, escaped the revision of " improvements commissioners," 
and presents, in the continuation of the principal thoroughfare through the Nether Bow to 
the Palace, many antique features, awaking associations of the period when the Scottish 
nobility resided there in close vicinity to the Court. 

A very few years, however, have sufficed to do the work of centuries in the demolition 
of time-honoured and interesting fabrics. St Giles's Church has been renovated externally, 
and reduced to the insipid standard of modern uniformity. George IV. Bridge, and its 
approaches, have swept away nearly all the West Bow, Gosford's and the Old Bank Closes, 
Libberton's Wynd, and some of the most interesting houses in the Cowgate. The projec- 
tors of the New College have taken for its site another portion, including the Guise Palace, 
in Blyth's Close, which bore, on its north front, the earliest date then existing on any 
private building in Edinburgh ; and the same parties, in their zeal to do honour to Knox's 

1 Ante, p. 44. 

* Maitknd, p. 20, where it is defined as at the foot of Libberton'a Wyud, but this is obviously an error. 

3 So culled from having long been the site of the Botanical Gardens. 4 Maitland. p. 45. 



memory, have devoted his picturesque old domicile to destruction. The Collegiate Church 
of Mary of Guelders is destiued to a similar fate ; and, in truth, it would seem as if a 
regular crusade had been organised by all classes, having for its object to root out every- 
thing in Edinburgh that is ancient, picturesque, or interesting, owing to local or historical 
iissociations, and to substitute in their stead the commonplace uniformity of the New Town. 
One effect, however, of all this has been, by so greatly diminishing these ancient fabrics, 
to awake an increased interest in the few that remain, while, even by the demolition of 
others, many curious features have been brought to light, which would otherwise have 
remained unknown. 

It is earnestly to be desired that a lively veneration for these monuments of past times 
may be more widely diffused, and produce such a wholesome spirit of conservatism, as may 
at least preserve those that remain from reckless destruction. An antiquary, indeed, may 
at times seem to resemble some querulous crone, who shakes her head, with boding predic- 
tions of evil at the slightest variance from her own narrow rule ; but the new, and what 
may be called the genteel style of taste, which has prevailed during the earlier portion of 
the present century, has too well justified his complaints. The old Parliament Close, with 
its irregular Elizabethan Court houses, and the ancient Collegiate Church (which on that 
side at least was ornate and unique), have been remodelled according to the newest fashion, 
and, to complete the change, the good old name of Close, which is pleasingly associated 
with the cloistral courts of the magnificent cathedrals and abbeys of England, has been 
replaced by the modern, and, in this case, ridiculous one of Square. In full accordance 
with this is the still more recent substitution of the name of North British Close for that 
of Halkerston's Wynd the only thing that remained about that ancient alley to com- 
memorate the death of David Halkerstoun of Halkerstoun, while bravely defending this 
passage against the English in 1544. Modern imitations of the antique, such as have 
been attempted in the newest thoroughfares in the Old Town, are easily erected, with more 
or less taste, and as easily replaced. But if the Old Town of Edinburgh is once destroyed, 
no wealth can restore the many interesting associations that still linger about its ancient 

VIGNETTE Ancient Doorway in Halkerston's Wynd. 




Inetall'd on hills, her head neare starrye bowres, 

Shines Edinburgh, proud of protecting powers : 

Justice defends her heart ; Religion east 

With tempi ; Mars with towres doth guard the west ; 

Fresh Nymphes and Ceres serving, waite upon her ; 

And Thetis, tributarie, doth her honour. 

The sea doth Venice shake ; Home Tiber beates ; 

WLiifec She bot scorues her vassal! watteres' threats. 

For scepters no where standes a towne more fitt, 

Nor place where towne, world's Queene, may fairer eitt. 

Bot this Thy praise is, above all most brave, 

No man did e'er diffarne Thee bot a slave. 

Drummond of ffawthornd 'fit, 
from the Latin of Dr Arthur Johnstons. 

Cfrr 3Tofott. 

Tlie shady lane, the hedgerow, and the wool, 

And ripening fields have won the poet's heart, 

Until the love of Nature is a part 

Of his soul's being ; yet own I the mood 

That seeks out nature in the crowded mart, 

Nor thinks the poet's teaching unwithstood. 

Because, within the thicker solitude 

Of peopled cities, fancy plays its part : 

"Man made the town," and therefore fellowman 

May garner there, within its dusky lanes 

Of pent-up life, an airy empyrean, 

Dwelling apart, in sympathy, where wanes 

The light of present being, while the vast 

" Has been" awakes again, the being of the past. 

St tleg's. 

Hoar relic of the past, whose ancient spire 
Climbs heavenward amid the crowded mart, 
Keeping as 'twere within the city's heart, 
One shrine where reverent thoughts may yet retire ; 
And dreaming fancies, from the world apart, 
Wander among old tales of which thou art 
Sole relic. Is it vain that we inquire 
Somewhat of scenes where thou hast borne a part 
Mine own St Giles ! Old fashions have gone by, 
And superstitious, even of the heart, 
Thyself has changed some wrinkles for a smart 
New suit of modern fashion. To my eye 
The old one best beseemed thee, yet the more 
CUng I to what remains, the soul of yore. 



historical incidents narrated in the earlier 
part of the work, exhibit the Castle of 
Edinburgh as the nucleus round which the town 
has gradually arisen. Notwithstanding the numerous sieges which it has stood, the 
devastations to which it has been subjected by successive conquerors, and above all, the 
total changes in its defences, consequent on the alterations introduced in modern war- 
fare, it still contains remains of an earlier date than any that are to be found in the 
ancient capital. 

The main portion of the fortifications, however, must be referred to a period subsequent 
to the siege in 1572, when it was surrendered by Sir William Kirkcaldy, after it had been 
reduced nearly to a heap of ruins. In a report furnished to the Board of Ordnance, from 
documents preserved in that department, it appears that, in 1574 (only two years after 
the siege), the governor, George Douglas of Parkhead, repaired the walls, and built the 
half-moon battery, on the site, it may be presumed, of David's Tower, which was 
demolished in the course of the siege. 1 Tradition affixes the Protector's name to a small 
tower, with crow-stepped gables, built to the east of the great draw-well, forming the 
highest point of this battery. It is, without doubt, a building erected long before Crom- 

1 MS. Report, R. M'Kerlie, Esq., Ordnance Office, wherein it is further stated that, "In 1575, the Citadel con- 
tained eight distinct Towers, fronting the Old Town and south-west, and twelve buildings were outside the Citadel but 
within the walls, eight of which were in a castellated form." 

YIGNKTTE Edinburgh Castle, from a drawing by T. Sandby, about 1750. 


well's time, and, to all appearance, coeval with the battery, but its commanding position 
und extensive view are not unlikely to have arrested his notice. Considerable portions of 
the western fortifications, the parapet wall, and port holes of the half-moon battery, and 
the ornamental coping and embrazures of the north and east batteries, as well as the 
house now occupied by the barrack sergeant, are of a much later date. The building last 
mentioned, situated immediately to the north of the grand parade, bears a close resem- 
blance in its general style to the Darien House, erected in 1698, and the whole may, 
with every probability, be referred to nearly the same period, towards the close of William 
IJI.'s reign. 

Very considerable alterations have been made from time to time on the approach to the 
fortress from the town. The present broad esplanade was formed chiefly with the rubbish 
removed from the site of the Royal Exchange, the foundation of which was laid in 1753. 
In the very accurate view of the Castle furnished by Maitland, from a drawing by T. 
Sandby, which represents it previous to this date, there is only a narrow roadway, 
evidently of artificial construction, raised nearly to the present level, which may probably 
have been made on the destruction of the Spur, an ancient battery that occupied a 
considerable part of the Castle Hill, until it was demolished by order of the Estates of 
Parliament, August 2, 1649. 1 The previous elevation of the ground had evidently been 
no higher than the bottom of the present dry ditch. The curious bird's-eye view of the 
Castle, taken in 1573 (a fac-simile of which is given in the 2nd volume of the Bannatyne 
Miscellany), and all the earlier maps of Edinburgh, represent the Castle as rising abruptly 
on the east side, and in that of 1575, from which we have copied a view of the Castle, 2 the 
entrance appears to be by a long flight of steps. It may perhaps be considered as a 
confirmation of this, that in the representations of the fortress, as borne in the arms of 
the burgh, a similar mode of approach is generally shown. 3 

Immediately within the drawbridge, there formerly stood an ancient and highly orna- 
mental gateway, near the barrier guard-room. It was adorned with pilasters, and very 
rich mouldings carried over the arch, and surmounted with a remarkably curious piece of 
sculpture, in basso relievo, set in an oblong panel, containing a representation of the 
famous cannon, Mons Meg, with groups of ancient artillery and military weapons. This 
fine old port was only demolished in the beginning of the present century, owing to its 
being found too narrow to give admission to modern carriages and waggons, when the 
present plain and inelegant gateway was erected on its site. Part of the curious carving 
alluded to has since been placed over the entrance to the Ordnance Office in the Castle, 
and the remaining portion is now preserved in the Antiquarian Museum. 4 

Immediately to the west of this, another ancient ornamented gateway still exists. 

1 Bannatyne Misc., vol. ii. p. 398. 2 Ante, p. 8. 

3 In the survey of the Caatle, taken for Sir William Drury in 1572, the following description occurs : " On the fore 
parte estwarde, next the towne, stands like iiij xr foote of the haule, and next unto the same stands Davyes Towre, and 
from it a courten, with vj cannons, in loopes of stone, lookinge in the streatwarde ; and behynd the same standes another 
teare of ordinance, lyke xvj foote clyni above the other ; and at the northe ende stands the Constables Towre; and in 
tlie bottom of the same, is the way into the Castle, with xl" steppes." The number of the stepps is in another hand, the 
MS. being partially injured. Baun. Misc., vol. ii. p. 69. 

4 Vide pp. 1 and 6, for views of these stones. They were preserved, and placed in their present situations through the 
good taste of R. M'Kerlie, Esq., of the Ordnance Office, to whose recollections of the old gateway, when an officer in 
the garrison ir 1800, we are mainly indebted for the above description. 


Along the deeply arched vault which leads into the Argyle Battery, may be traced the 
openings for two portcullises, and the hinges of several successive gates that formerly 
guarded this important pass. In Sandhy's view, already referred to, from which the 
vignette at the head of this chapter is copied, this gateway is shown as finished with an 
embattled parapet, and a flat roof, on which a guard could be stationed for its defence ; 
but since then it has been disfigured by the erection over it of an additional building, 
of a very unornamental character, intended for the use of the master carpenter. 

The apartment immediately above the long vaulted archway, is a place of peculiar 
interest, as the ancient state prison of the Castle. Within this gloomy stronghold, both 
the Marquis and Earl of Argyle were most probably confined previous to trial ; and here 
also many of lesser note have been held in captivity at different periods, down to the 
eventful year 1746, when numerous noble and gallant adherents of the house of Stuart 
were confined in it, as well as others suspected of an attachment to the same cause. 1 The 
last state prisoners lodged in this stronghold were Watt and Downie, accused of high 
treason, in 1794, the former of whom was condemned and executed. It was at first 
intended to have fulfilled the sentence of the law at the ancient place of execution for 
traitors, on the Castle Hill, biit this being considered liable to be construed into a betrayal 
of fear on the part of Government, as seeking to place themselves under the protection of 
the Castle guns, he was ultimately executed in the Lawnmarket. 

The only other objects of interest in the outer fortress are the Governor's House, a 
building probably erected in the reign of Queen Anne, and the Armoury, immediately 
behind it, where a well appointed store of arms is preserved, neatly arranged, intermixed 
with some relics of ancient warfare. In the exterior fortifications, to the west of the 
Armoury, may still be traced the archway of the ancient postern, which has been built up 
for many years. Here Viscount Dundee held his conference with the Duke of Gordon, 
when on his way to raise the Highland clans in favour of King James, while the Con- 
vention were assembled in the Parliament House, and were proceeding to settle the crown 
upon William and Mary. With only thirty of his dragoons, he rode down Leith Wynd, 
and along what was called the Long-Gate, a road nearly on the present line of Princes 
Street, while the town was beating to arms to pursue him. Leaving his men at the Kirk- 
brae-head, he clambered up the rock at this place, and urgently besought the Duke to 
accompany him to the Highlands, and summon his numerous vassals to rise on behalf of 
King James. The Duke, however, preferred to remain and hold out the Castle for the 
terror of the Convention, and Dundee hastily pursued his way to Stirling. 2 On this same 
site we may, with every probability, presume the ancient postern to have stood, through 
which the body of the pious Queen Margaret was secretly conveyed in the year 1093, while 
the fortress was besieged by Donald Bane, the usurper. 3 

The most interesting buildings, however, in the Castle, are to be found, as might be 

1 The rebel ladies are also said to have been confined there, and Lady Ogilvie made her escape in the dress of a 
washerwoman, brought by Miss Bahnain, who remained in her stead ; she was allowed afterwards to go free. 

- Minor Antiquities, p. 65. 

3 Ante, p. 3. It has been stated (Walks in Edinburgh, p. 52), but, we think, without sufficient evidence, that the 
Castle was without fortifications on the west and north sides until a recent period, tradition assigning their first erection 
to William III. But the same walls that still exist appear in Gordon's map, 1648, with the remains of ruinous build- 
ings attached to them, proving their antiquity at that earlier date. 


anticipated, on the loftiest and least accessible part of the rock on which it is built. Here, 
on the very edge of the precipitous cliif, overhanging the Old Town several hundred feet 
below, the ancient Koyal Palace is reared, forming the south and east sides of a large quad- 
rangle, called the Grand Parade. The chief portion of the southern side of this square 
consists of a large ancient edifice, long converted into an hospital for the garrison, but 
which had been originally the great hall of the Palace. Notwithstanding the numerous 
changes to which it has been subjected in adapting it to its present use, some remains of 
its ancient grandeur have been preserved. At the top of the principal staircase may be 
seen a very finely sculptured stone corbel, now somewhat mutilated, representing in front 
a female face of very good proportions, and ornamented on each with a volute and thistle. 
On this still rests the original oak beam; and on either side of it there are smaller beams 
let into the wall, with shields carved on the front of each. The whole are now defaced 
with whitewash, but they afford evidence of the existence formerly of a fine open timbered 
roof to the great hall, and it is probable that much more of it still remains, though con- 
cealed by modern ceilings and partitions. From the occasional assembling of the Parlia- 
ment here, while the Scottish Monarchs continued to reside in the Castle, it still retains 
the name of the Parliament House. 1 

The view from the windows on this side of the Palace is scarcely surpassed by any other 
in the capital. Immediately below are the picturesque old houses of the Grassmarket and 
West Port, crowned by the magnificent towers of Heriot's Hospital. From this abyss, 
the hum of the neighbouring city rises up, mellowed by the distance, into one pleasing 
voice of life and industry ; while, beyond, a gorgeous landscape is spread out, reaching 
almost to the ancient landmarks of the kingdom, guarded on the far east by the old keep 
of Craigmillar Castle, and on the west by Merchiston Tower. Between these is still seen 
the wide expanse of the Borough Muir, on which the fanciful eye of one familiar with the 
national history will summon up the Scottish hosts marshalling for southern war ; as when 
the gallant Jameses looked forth from these same towers, and proudly beheld them gather- 
ing around the standard of " the Ruddy Lion," pitched in the massive " Bore Stane,'' 1 
still remaining at the Borough Muir Head. 

Immediately to the east of this, the royal apartments are situated. The windows in this 
part of the quadrangle have been very large, though now partly built up, and near the top 
of the building, there is a sculptured shield, much defaced, which seems to bear the Scot- 
tish Lion, with a crown over it. A stone tablet over the arch of the old doorway, with 

1 In the Treasurer's Accounts, various items occur, relating to the royal apartments in the Castle, e.g. A.D. 1516, " for 
treiu werk (timber work) for The Great Haw Windois in the Castell; gret gestis, doubill dalis, &c., for the Myd Cha- 
mer ; " and, again, " to Robert Balye for flaring of the Lordis Haw in Davidis Tower of the Castell in Ed r " Pitcairn's 
Crim. Trials, Appendix. The Hall is also alluded to in the survey of 1572, and its locality described as " On the south 
syde wher the haule is," &c. Bann. Misc., vol. ii. p. 70. In a series of "One hundred and fifty select views, by P- 
Sandby," published by Boydell, there is one of Edinburgh Castle from the south, dated 1779, in which two of the great 
hall windows remain ; they are lofty, extending through two stories of the building, us now arranged, and apparently 
divided by stone mullions. The coping, supported on stone corbels, still remains as in the earliest views. 

2 Bore Stanc, so called from the hollow or bore into which the staff of the royal standard was placed (vide Marmion, 
canto iv. v. 28). About a mile south of this, near the entrance to Morton Hall, is the Hare. Stane (confounded by 
Maitland, p. 506, with the former). Various stones in Gloucestershire and other districts of England bear the same 
name, which an antiquarian friend suggests is probably derived from the Saxon Har, signifying slaughter, and therefore 
indicating the site of an ancient battle. About a mile to the south of this, a huge Druidical mass of red sandstone bears 
the name of Buck Stane. The two last are popularly believed to mark the rendezvous of the Court for coursing the 
hare or hunting the buck in " The olden time. " 


the initials H. and M. inwrought, for HENRY and MARY, and the date 1566, 1 commemo- 
rates the birth of James VI., on the 19th June of that year. The small room, which was 
the scene of this important event, forms the south-east angle of the building. It is singu- 
larly irregular in form and circumscribed in its dimensions, its greatest length being little 
more than eight feet. The room was formerly neatly panelled with wainscot, but, after 
being abandoned for years as a drinking-room to the canteen, much of this has been 
renewed in a very rude and inelegant fashion. The original ceiling, however, is pre- 
served, wrought in ornamental wooden panels, with the initials I. R. and M. R. surmounted 
with the royal crown, in alternate compartments ; and, on the wall, the commemorative 
inscription, in black letter, mentioned by Maitland, still remains, with the Scottish arms 
over it : 

Itorb 3!esu ftbrps't, tfmt erotmit \na0 mitb flTfaorniSf , 
Preserve tfre '23irdb,<iiifmi# "S&abQie 6eir i# borne, 
3Cn& ?'enb $ip >oiue 0urcessiont, to Heigne grill, 
liang in tbtf ISealme, if tfmt it be (arftg will 
?tt# grant, "UotD, clu't of $ir py.o0'ttb 
"&t to flTl-.g $onet ant) Pnm, tfolwb. 
19th IVNII, 1566. 

At the back of the fireplace was formerly shown a hole, said to have served as the 
communication through which a wire was conveyed to a house in the Grassmarket, and 
there attached to a bell, to advise the Queen's Catholic friends of the birth of her son. 
The use of bells, however, except in church steeples, is of a much more modern date; and 
equally apocryphal is another story of the infant Prince having been secretly let down over 
the rock in a basket, into the hands of these same adherents of the Queen, to be educated 
in the Catholic religion. 

A considerable part of the east and north fronts of the ancient Royal Palace seem, 
from the dates on them, as well as from the general style of the building, to have been 
erected in the year 1616. The appearance, however, of many portions of the interior 
leave no room to doubt that the works of that date were only a partial remodelling of a 
more ancient fabric. Some of the stone panels on the east front are wrought in remark- 
ably beautiful Elizabethan ornaments, and on one of them the regalia have been sculptured 
in high relief, though some chance shot, in one of the later sieges of the Castle, has 
broken away the larger portion of the figures. The turrets at the angles of the building, 
as well as the clock tower in the quadrangle, were originally covered with ogee lead roofs, 
similar to that still remaining on the turret staircase at the north end. 

Immediately below the grand hall, are two tiers of large and strongly-vaulted bomb- 
proof vaults, extending below the paved court of the quadrangle, communicating with a 
wide arched passage, entered from the west side. The small loop-hole that admits light 
into each of these huge vaults is strongly secured by three ranges of iron bars, and a 
massive iron gate closes the entrance to the steep flight of steps that give admission to 
the dreary dungeons. Within these gloomy abodes the French prisoners were confined 
during the late war, above forty of them sleeping in a single vault. We furnish a view 

1 Ante. p. 77. From the style of ornament, it appears to have been put up at a later period, probably by James VL 
on his visit to Scotland in 1617. 



of one of thorn as it still exists, with the woodeu frame-work that sustained the hammocks 
of the prisoners. 

Immediately below Queen Mary's Room, there is another curiously- vaulted dungeon, 
partly excavated out of the solid rock, and retaining the staple of an iron chain, doubtless 
used for securing the limbs of some wretched captive in ancient times. No date can with 
any certainty be assigned to these massive foundations of the Castle, though they undoubt- 
edly belong to a remote period of its history. 

In making some repairs on the west front of the royal apartments in the year 1830, a 
remarkably curious and interesting discovery was made. Nearly in a line with the Crown 
Room, and about six feet from the pavement of the quadrangle, the wall was observed, 
when struck, to sound hollow, as though a cavity existed at that place. It was accord- 
ingly opened from the outside, when a recess was discovered, measuring about two feet 
six inches by one foot, and containing the remains of a child, enclosed in an oak coffin, 
evidently of great antiquity, and very much decayed. The remains were wrapped in a 
cloth, believed to be woollen, very thickly wove ? so as to resemble leather, and within this 
were the decayed fragments of a richly-embroidered silk covering, with two initials wrought 
upon it, one of them distinctly marked I. This interesting discovery was reported at the 
time to Major General Thackery, then commanding the Royal Engineers, by whose orders 
they were again restored to their strange place of sepulture, where they still remain. It 
were vain now to attempt a solution of this mysterious discovery, though it may furnish 
the novelist with material on which to found a thrilling romance. 

Within this portion of the old Palace is the Crown Room, where the ancient Regalia 

VIGNETTE French Prisoners' Vault in the Castle. 


of Scotland is kept. The apartment is a massive bomb-proof vault, and contains, along 
with these national treasures, the old, iron-bound oak chest in which they were found in 
the year 1817. The remarkably elegant crown is referred, with every probability, to the 
era of Bruce, although it was not adorned with the graceful concentric arches of gold till 
the reign of James V. It was further completed by the substitution of the present cap of 
crimson velvet by James VII. for the former purple one, which had suffered during its 
concealment in the civil wars. Next in interest to the crown is the beautiful sword of 
state, presented by Pope Julius II. to James IV. The scabbard is richly wrought with 
filigree work of silver, representing oak boughs adorned with leaves and acorns, an oak 
tree being the heraldic device of that warlike Pontiff. In addition to the finely propor- 
tioned sceptre, surmounted with statues of the Virgin, St Andrew, and St James, which 
was made for James V., these interesting national relics are accompanied by the royal jewels, 
bequeathed by Cardinal York, the last of the Stuarts, to George IV., including the George 
and collar of the Order of the Garter, presented by Queen Elizabeth to James VI. the badge 
of the Thistle of the same Monarch, containing a portrait of Anne of Denmark, and the 
coronation ring of Charles I. 

The north side of this quadrangle now consists of a plain and uninteresting range of 
barracks, erected about the middle of last century, previous to which time the site was 
occupied by a church of large dimensions and great antiquity. It is described by Maitland 
as " a very long and large ancient church, which," says he, " from its spacious dimensions, 
I imagine that it was not only built for the use of the small garrison, but for the service of 
the neighbouring inhabitants, before St Giles's Church was erected for their accommoda- 
tion." l Unfortunately, that laborious and painstaking historian, having little taste for 
ecclesiastical remains, has furnished no account of the style of architecture by which to 
judge of its probable date, though his idea of its having existed before the earliest church 
of St Giles, shows his conviction of its very great antiquity, and would carry its foundation 
back to a much earlier period than can be assigned to it. This most probably was a church 
that appears to have been built shortly after the death of the pious Queen of Malcolm Can- 
more, and dedicated to her. It is mentioned by David I. in his charter of Holyrood, as 
" the Church of the Castle of Edinburgh," 2 and is again confirmed to the Abbey of the 
Holy Rood in that of Alexander III., as well as in successive Papal bulls. 3 Robert II. 
granted to St Margaret's Chapel, within the Castle of Edinburgh, an yearly rent of eight 
pounds sterling, out of the customs of Edinburgh ; and this donation is confirmed by 
Robert III. 4 

Some idea of the form of the church, may be gathered from old views. In the bird's- 
eye view in Gordon's map, the south elevation is shown ; it also forms a prominent object 
in Saudby's view of the Castle from the east, already referred to, and would seem to have 
been a comparatively plain edifice, with crow-step gables and small windows, and was, in 
all probability, an erection in the Norman style that prevailed at the period. From the 
latter view, it would also appear to have been roofed with stone flags, and ornamented along 
the ridge with carved pinnacles, such as may still be seen on St Mary's Church at Leith. 
This church seems to have been applied to secular purposes soon after the Reformation 

1 Maitland, p. 145. 2 Liber Cartarum, pp. 3-7. 

3 Liber Cartarimi, pp. 64, 169, 186. * Caledonia, vol. ii. p. 693. 



In 1595, the following entry occurs in the records of the Presbytery of Edinburgh : 
"Anent the desyre of James Reid, Constable of the Castell of Edinburgh, in effect 
craving that, seing thair was ane paroche kirk within the said Castell, command wald be 
given to John Brand to baptese the barnis borne in the Castell. The Presbyterie under- 
standiuf that the kirk thairof is unreparitt, willis the said Constable to repair the same, 
and to dedicatt it for na uther use bot for preiching. Thairefter his desyre sal be 
answerit." l Eight years afterwards, it appears, from the same records, that the question of 
its being a parish was disputed, and still under discussion, and so it remains even to our 
own day. When Maitland wrote, the old church was divided by floors, and converted 
into an armoury aud storehouse; and soon after his time, it must have been entirely 


We have been the more careful in describing the site 

and general character of the ancient Church of the Castle, 
in order to prevent its being confounded with a singularly 
curious and interesting ecclesiastical edifice still remaining 
there, immediately to the west of the garrison chapel, the 
existence of which seems to have been totally lost sight of. 
Its external appearance, though little calculated to excite 
attention, leaves little reason to doubt that the original 
walls remain. It is still in a tolerably perfect condition, 
consisting of a very small building, measuring sixteen 
feet six inches, by ten feet six inches within the nave , pro- 
bably the smallest, as well as the most ancient chapel in 
Scotland. At the east end, there is a neatly carved, 
double, round arch, separating it from a semicircular chan- 
cel, with a plain alcoved ceiling. It is decorated with the 
usual Norman zigzag mouldings, and finished on the 
outer side by a border of lozenge-shaped ornaments, the 

pattern of which is curiously altered as it approaches the spring of the arch. No traces 
of ornament are now apparent within the chancel, a portion of the building usually so 
highly decorated, but the space is so small, that the altar, with its customary appendages, 
would render any further embellishment immaterial. There have been formerly two 
pillars on each side, supporting the arch, with plain double cushion capitals, which still 
remain, as well as two of the bases, but the shafts of all the pillars are now wanting, and 
the opening of the arch is closed in with a rude brick partition in order to adapt the 
chancel to its modern use as a powder magazine. The original windows of the chapel have 
all been built up or enlarged, but sufficient remains can be traced to show that they have 
been plain, round-headed, and very narrow openings. The original doorway is also built 
up, but may still be seen in the north wall, close to the west end, an arrangement not 
unusual in such small chapels, and nearly similar to that at Craigmillar Castle. This 
interesting edifice is now abandoned to the same uses as the larger church was in 

1 Wodrow Misc., Vol. i. p. 463. 
VIGNETTE Mouldings of the Chancel Arch, from the Chapel in the Castle 


Maitland's time, and is divided into two stories by a floor which conceals the upper portion 
of the chancel arch. 

This chapel is, without doubt, the most ancient building now existing in Edinburgh, 
and may, with every probability, be regarded as having been the place of worship of 
the pious Queen Margaret, during her residence in the Castle, till her death in 1093. It 
is in the same style, though of a plainer character, as the earliest portions of Holyrood 
Abbey, begun in the year 1128; and it is worthy of remark, that the era of Norman 
architecture is one in which many of the most interesting ecclesiastical edifices in the 
neighbourhood of Edinburgh were founded, including Holyrood Abbey, St Giles's Church, 
and the parish churches of Duddingston, Ratho, Kirkliston, and Dalmeny, all of which, 
with the exception of St Giles's Church, still contain interesting remains of that era. 1 

The present garrison chapel is almost entirely a modern building, though including in its 
walls portions of a former edifice of considerable antiquity. Immediately north of this is 
the King's Bastion, or mortar battery, upon which is placed the famous old cannon, MONS 
MEG. This ancient national relic, which is curiously constructed of iron staves and hoops, 
was removed to the Tower of London in 1754, in consequence of an order from the Board 
of Ordnance to the governor to send thither all unserviceable cannon in the Castle. It lay 
there for seventy years, until it was restored to Scotland by George IV., in 1829, mainly 
in consequence of the intercessions of Sir Walter Scott. The form of its ancient wooden 
carriage is represented on the sculptured stone, already described, over the entrance of the 
Ordnance Office, but that having broken down shortly after its return to Scotland, it has 
since been mounted on an elegant modern carriage of cast-iron. On this a series of inscrip- 
tions have been introduced, embodying the usually received traditions as to its history, 
which derive the name from its supposed construction at Mons, in Flanders. There is good 
reason, however, for believing that local repute has erred on this point, and that this 
famous piece of artillery is a native of the land to which all its traditions belong. The evi- 
dence for this interesting fact was first communicated in a letter from that diligent antiquary, 
Mr Train, to Sir Walter Scott, and affords proof, from the local traditions of Galloway, that 
this huge piece of ordnance was presented to James II. in 1455, by the M'Lellans, when he 
arrived with an army at Carlingwark, to besiege William Earl of Douglas, in the Castle 
of Threave. We have compressed into a note the main facts of this interesting communi- 
cation respecting the pedigree of Mons Meg, which Sir Walter thus unhesitatingly attests 
in his reply : " You have traced her propinquity so clearly, as henceforth to set all conjec- 
ture aside."* 

1 Our attention was first directed to this chapel by being told, in answer to our inquiries after the antiquities of the 
Castle, that a font still existed in a cellar to the west of the garrison chapel ; it proved, on inspection, to be the socket 
of one of the chancel pillars. In further confirmation of the early date we are disposed to assign to this chapel, we may 
remark that the building gifted by David I. to his new Abbey, is styled in all the earlier charters, Ecclesia " concedi- 
mus ecclesiam, scilicet Castelli curn omnibus appendiciis, " a description we can hardly conceive referable to so small a 
chapel, while those of Corstorphine and Libberton are merely CapeUee, dependencies of the Church of St Cuthbert 
and neither the style of this building, nor the probability derived from the practice of the period, admit of the idea that 
so small a chapel would be erected apart from the church after its completion. 

In " The inventare of golden and silver werk being in the Castell of Edinburgh," 8th Nov. 1543, the following items 
occur: "The Chapell geir of silver ouregilt, ane croce of silver with our Lady and Sanct John, Tua chaudleris, aue 
chalice and ane patine, aue halie watter fatt," &e., &c., all " of silver ouregilt. Chapell geir ungilt. Aue croce of 
silver, tua chandleris of silver, ane bell of silver, ane halie watter fatt, with the stick of silver, ane caise of silver 
for the mess breid, with the cover," &c. Inventory of Royal Wardrobe, &c., 4to, Edinburgh, 1815, p. 112. 

1 Contemporaries of Burns. Joseph Train, p. 200. The Earl of Douglas having seized Sir Patrick M'Lellan, 



The high estimation in which this huge cannon was anciently held, appears from numer- 
ous notices of it in early records. Mous Meg was taken, by order of James IV., from 
Edinburgh Castle on 10th July 1489, to be employed at the siege of Dumbarton, on which 
occasion there is an entry in the treasurer's books of eighteen shillings for drink-money to 
the gunners. The same records again notice her transportation from the Castle to the 
Abbey of Holyrood, during the same reign, apparently at a period of national festivity. 
Some of the entries on this occasion are curious, such as, " to the menstrallis that playit 
befoir Mons down the gait, fourteen shillings ; eight elle of claith, to be Mons a claith to 
cover her, nine shillings and fourpence," &c. In the festivities celebrated at Edinburgh 
by the Queen Dowager, Mary of Guise, on the marriage of her daughter, Queen Mary, to 
the Dauphin of France, Mons Meg testified with loudest acclaim the general joy. The 
treasurer's accounts contain the following item on the occasion : " By the Queenis precept 
and speciale command, to certane pyonaris for thair lauboris in the mounting of Mons furth 
of her lair to be schote, and for the finding and carying of hir bullet after scho wes shot, 
fra Weirdie Mure, 1 to the Castell of Edinburgh," &c. 

In the list of ordnance delivered by the governor to Colonel Monk, on the surrender of 
the Castle in 1650, Meg receives, with all due prominence, the designation of " the great 
iron murderer, Muckle Meg." ! This justly celebrated cannon, after sustaining for cen- 
turies, in so credible a manner, the dignity of her pre-eminent greatness, at length burst 

tutor of Bomby, the Sheriff of Galloway, and chief of a powerful clan, carried him prisoner to Threave Castle, where 
he caused him to be hanged on "The Gallows Knob," a granite block which still remains, projecting over the main gate- 
way of the Castle. The act of forfeiture, passed by Parliament in 1455, at length furnished an opportunity, under the 
protection of Government, of throwing off that iron yoke of the Douglasses under which Galloway had groaned upwards 
of eighty years. When James II. arrived with an army at Carlingwark, to besiege the Castle of Threave, the M'Lellans 
presented his Majesty with the piece of ordnance, now called Mons Meg, to batter down the fortlet of the rebellious 
chieftain. The first discharge of this great gun is said to have consisted of a peck of powder and a granite ball, nearly as 
heavy as a Galloway cow. This ball is believed, in its course through the Castle of Threave, to have carried away the 
hand of Margaret de Douglas, commonly called the Fair Maid of Galloway, as she sat at table with her lord, and was 
in the act of raising the wine-cup to her lips. Old people still maintain that the vengeance of God was thereby evidently 
manifested in destroying the hand which had been given in wedlock to two brothers, and that even while the lawful 
spouse of the first was alive. As a recompense for the present of this extraordinary engine of war, and for the loyalty 
of the M'Lellans, the King, before leaving Galloway, erected the town of Kirkcudbright into a royal burgh, and granted 
to Brawny Kim, the smith, the lands of Mollance, in the neighbourhood of Threave Castle. Hence the smith was called 
Mollance, and his wife's name being Meg, the cannon, in honour of her, received the appellative of "Mollance Meg." 
There is no smithy now at the "Three Thorns of Carlingwark; " but a few years ago, when making the great military 
road to Portpatrick, which passes that way, the workmen had to cut through a deep bed of cinders and ashes, which 
plainly showed that there had been an extensive forge on that spot at some former period. Although the lands of Mol- 
lance have now passed into other hands, there are several persons of the name of Kim, blacksmiths, in this quarter, who 
are said to be descendants of the brawny makers of Mollance Meg. It is likewise related, that while Brawny Kim and 
his seven sons were constructing the cannon at the "Three Thorns of the Carlingwark," another party was busily em- 
ployed in making balls of granite on the top of Bennan Hill, aud that, as each ball was finished, they rolled it down the 
rocky declivity facing Threave Castle. One of these balls is still shown at Balmaghie House, the residence of Captain 
Gordon, in that neighbourhood, and corresponds exactly in size and quality with those carried with the cannon to Edin- 
burgh. As the balls in the Castle are evidently of Galloway granite, a strong presumptive proof is afforded that Mons 
Meg was of Galloway origin. Some years ago, Threave Castle was partially repaired under the superintendence of Sir 
Alexander Gordon of Culveunan, Sheriff-Depute of the Stewartry ; and one of the workmen, when digging up some 
rubbish within the walls, found a massive gold ring, with an inscription on it, purportiug that the ring had belonged to 
the same Margaret de Douglas, a circumstance seeming to confirm a part of the tradition. This curious relic was 
purchased from the person who found it, by Sir Alexander Gordon. In addition to this, Symson, in his work written 
nearly an hundred and sixty years ago, says : " The common report also goes in that country, that in the Isle of Threaves, 
the great iron gun in the Castle of Edinburgh, commonly called Mount Meg, was wrought and made." This statement 
should, of itself, set the question at rest. For further evidence, see History of Galloway, Appendix, vol. i. pp. 25-38. 

1 Wardie is fully two miles north from the Castle, near Granton. 

" Provincial Antiquities, p. 21. 


iu 1682, in firing a royal salute to the Duke of York, afterwards James VII., a circum- 
stance that did not fail to be noted at the time as an evil omen. 1 On her restoration to 
Edinburgh, in 1829 (from which she had been taken as a lump of old iron), she was again 
received with the honours accorded to her in ancient times, and was attended in grand pro- 
cession, and with a military guard of honour, from Leith to her ancient quarters in the 
Castle. 2 

Near the battery on which this ancient relic now stands is situated the postern gate, as 
it is termed, which forms the western boundary of the inner fortification, or citadel of the 
Castle. Immediately without this, the highest ground was known, till the erection of the 
new barracks, by the name of Hawk-Hill, 3 and doubtless indicated the site of the falconry 
in earlier times, while the Castle was a royal residence. Numerous entries in the treasurers' 
books attest the attachment of the Scottish Kings to the noble sport of hawking, and the 
very high estimation in which these birds were held. 

On the northern slope of the Esplanade, without the Castle wall, there still exists a long, 
low archway, like the remains of a subterraneous passage, the walls being of rubble work, 
and the arch neatly built of hewn stone. Until the enclosure and planting of the ground 
excluded the public from the spot, this was popularly known as the Lions' Den, and was 
believed to have been a place of confinement for some of these animals, kept, according 
to ancient custom, for the amusement of the Scottish monarchs, though it certainly looks 
much more like a covered way to the Castle. 4 Storer, in his description of the West Bow, 
mentions a house " from which there is a vaulted passage to the Castle Hill," as a thing 
then (1818) well known, the house being reported to have aiforded in earlier times a place 
of meeting for the Council. This tradition of an underground way from the Castle, is one 
of very old and general belief ; and the idea was further strengthened, by the discovery of 
remains of a subterranean passage crossing below Brown's Close, Castle Hill, in paving it 
about the beginning of the present century. 5 At the bottom of the same slope, on the 
margin of the hollow that once formed the bed of the North Loch, stand the ruins of an 
ancient fortification, called the Well-house Tower, which dates as early at least as the 
erection of the first town wall, in 1450. It formed one of the exterior works of the 
Castle, and served, as its name implies, to secure to the garrison comparatively safe access 
to a spring of water at the base of the precipitous rock. Some interesting discoveries were 
made relative to this fortification during the operations in the year 1821, preparatory to 
the conversion of the North Loch into pleasure grounds. The removal of a quantity of 
rubbish brought a covered way to light, leading along the southern wall of the tower to 
a strongly fortified doorway, evidently intended as a sally port, and towards which the 

1 Fountainhall's Chron. Notes, No. 1. 

5 A curious and ancient piece of brass ordnance, now preserved in the Antiquarian Museum, is worthy of notice here 
from its connection with Edinburgh. It was found on the battlements of Bhurtpore, when taken by Lord Combermere, 
and bears the inscription JACOBDS MONTEITH ME FECIT, EDINBURGH, ANNO DOM. 1642. 

* Kincaid, p. 137. " The governor appointed a centinell on the Hauke Hill, to give notice so soon as he saw the 
mortar piece fired." Siege of the Castle, 1689. Bann. Club, p. 55. 

4 A very curious monumental stone stands near the top of the bank, but it can hardly be included, with propriety, 
among our local antiquities. It was brought from Sweden, and presented many years since to the Society of Antiquaries 
by Sir Alex. Setoun of Preston. There is engraved on it a serpent encircling a cross, and on the body of the serpent 
a Runic inscription, signifying, Ari engraved this stone in memory of Hiaim, his father. God help his soul. Vide 
Arc-hsBologia Seotica, vol. ii. p. 490. 

B Chambers's Traditions, vol. i. p. 156. 


defences of the tower were principally directed. The walls are here of very great thick- 
ness, and pierced by a square cavity in the solid mass, for the reception of a sliding beam 
to secure the door, while around it are the remains of various additional fortifications to 
protect the covered way. 

During the same operations, indications were discovered of a pathway up the cliff, partly 
by means of steps cut in the shelving rock, and probably completed by moveable ladders 
and a drawbridge communicating with the higher story of the Well-house Tower. About 
seventy feet above, there is a small building on an apparently inaccessible projection of the 
cliff, popularly known as " Wallace's Cradle " 1 (an obvious corruption of the name of the 
tower below), which would seem to have formed a part of this access from the Castle to 
the ancient fountain at its base. In excavating near the tower, and especially in the neigh- 
bourhood of the sally port, various coins were found, chiefly those of Edward III. and 
Cromwell, in very good preservation. There were also some foreign coins, and one of 
Edward I., many fragments of bombshells, a shattered skull, and other indications of 
former warfare. The coins are now in the Antiquarian Museum, and are interesting 
from some of them being of a date considerably anterior to the supposed erection of the 
tower. 2 

The ancient fortifications of the town of Edinburgh, reared under the charter of James 
II., formed, at this part, in reality an advanced wall of the Castle, the charge of which 
was probably committed entirely to the garrison. The wall, after extending for a short 
way from the Well-house Tower, along the margin of the Loch, was carried up the Castle 
bank, and thence over the declivity on the south, until it again took an easterly direction 
towards the ancient Overbow Port, at the first turning of the West Bow, so that the whole 
of the Esplanade was separated from the town by this defence. There was in the highest 
part of the wall, a gate which served as a means of communication with the town by the 
Castle Hill, and was styled the Barrier Gate of the Castle. This outer port was temporarily 
restored for the reception of George IV., on his visit to the Castle in the year 1822, and it 
was again brought into requisition in 1832, in order completely to isolate the garrison, 
during the prevalence of Asiatic cholera. 

Previous to the enclosure and planting of the Castle bank and the bed of the ancient 
North Loch, the Esplanade was the principal promenade of the citizens, and a road led 
from the top of the bank, passing in an oblique direction down the north side, by the 
Well-house Tower, to St Cuthbert's Church, some indications of which still remain. This 
church road had existed from a very early period, and is mentioned in the charter of 

1 The following extracts from the Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 332-3, in reference to the siege of the Castle by Sir 
William Drury in 1573 (ante, p. 84), embrace various interesting allusions to the local detail :" Wpoun the xxij 
day of Maij, the south quarter of the toure of the Castell, callit Dauid's toure, fell through the vehement and continuall 
schuting, togidder with some of the foir wall, and of the heid wall besyd Sanct Margaretis zet. 

" Wpoun the xxiiij day, the eist quarter of the said tour fell, with the north quarteris of the port culzeis ; the tour 
als callit Wallace tour, with some mair of the foir wall, notwithstanding the Castell men kust thair hand with schutting 

of small artailzerie Wpoun the xxvj day, the haill cumpanyis of Scotland and Ingland, being quietlie 

couvenit at vij houris in the mornyng, passed with ledders, ane half to the blockhous, the vther half to Sanct Katherin's 
zet, on the west syd, quhair the syid wes schote doun." The Castle was at length rendered by Sir William Kirkaldy 
on the 29th of the month. In Calderwood's History, Wodrow Soc., vol. iii. 281, the following occurs, of the same 
date : " Captain Mitchell was layed with his band at Sanct Cuthbert's Kirk, to stoppe the passage to St Margaret's 
Well." Also in "The Inventory of Royal Wardrobe," &c., p. 168, "Item, ane irne yet for Sanct Margareth's 
tour," &c. 

* Archaeologia Scotica, vol. ii. pp. 469-477. 


David I. to Holyrood Abbey, in the description of the lands lying under the Castle. In 
the old song, entitled " The Young Laird and Edinburgh Katy," to which Allan Ramsay 
added some verses, the laird addresses his mistress, 

My dear, quoth I, thanks to the Night 
That never wisht a Lover ill ; 
Since ye 're out of your Mither's sight, 
Let 'a take a walk up to the Hill. 

In a footnote the poet adds " The Castle Hill, where young people frequently take 
the air on an evening," but the local allusions of the earlier stanza are not carried out in 
his additions. 1 This favourite walk of the citizens has been greatly improved since then, 
by levelling and the construction of parapet walls. In an act passed in the reign of Queen 
Anne, for the better keeping of the Lord's Day, it is specially mentioned, along with the 
King's Park and the Pier of Leith, as the most frequent scene of the Sunday promenadings 
that then excited the stern rebukes of the clergy ; and, notwithstanding the great changes 
that have occurred since that period, the same description might still be given, with the 
single addition of the Oalton Hill to the list. 

1 The Castle Hill was very often made the scene of public executions, and was particularly famous for the burning of 
witches, and those convicted of unnatural crimes. In the reign of James IV., in 1538, John Lord Forbes was beheaded 
here, and a few days afterwards, the Lady Glamis, sister of the Earl of Angus, was burnt alive, on a charge of high 
treason. Here also, during the following reign, Foret, the Vicar of Dollar, and several others of the earliest reformers, 
perished at the stake. The Diurnal of Occurrents records many other executions, such as "September 1st, 1570, 
thair wer tua personis brint in the Castell Hill of Edinburgh, for the committing of ane horrible sinne." Birrel again 
mentions, e.g., July 1605, "Henry Lourie brunt on the Castell Hill for witchcraft, committed and done by him in Kyle; " 
and in Nicol's Diary, from 1650 to 1667, including the period of the Commonwealth, executions on this spot occur with 
painful frequency, as on the 15th of October 165G, when seven culprits, including three women, were executed for 
different crimes, two of whom were burnt. Again, " 9th March 1659, thair wer fyve wemen, witches, brint on the 
Castell Hill for witchcraft, all of them confessand thair covenanting with Satan, sum of thame renunceand thair 
baptisme, all of thame oft tymes dancing with the Devill." In the reign of Charles I. a novel character was assigned to 
it. The Earl of Stirling, having obtained leave to colonise Nova Scotia, and sell the honour of the baronetage to two 
hundred imaginary colonists, the difficulty of infeoffing the knights in their remote possessions was overcome by a 
royal mandate converting the soil of the Castle Hill of Edinburgh, for the time being, into that of Nova Scotia, and the 
new baronets were accordingly invested with their honours on this spot. 



DREVIOTJS to the discovery of gunpowder, and while its destructive powers remained 
only very partially understood, the vicinity of the Castle seems to have been eagerly 
selected as a desirable locality for the erection of dwellings, that might thus in some degree 
share in the protection which its fortifications secured to those within the walls ; and we 
find, accordingly, in its immediate neighbourhood, considerable remains of ancient 
grandeur. Before examining these, however, we may remark, that a general and progressive 
character prevails throughout the features of our domestic architecture, many of which are 
peculiar to Scotland, and some of them only to be found in Edinburgh. 

Various specimens of the rude dwellings of an early date remain in the Grassmarket, 
the Pleasance, and elsewhere, which, though more or less modified to adapt them to modern 
habits and manners, still retain the main primitive features of a substantial stone ground- 
flat, surmounted with a second story of wood, generally approached by an outside stair, 
and exhibiting irregular and picturesque additions, stuck on, like the clusters of swallows' 
nests that gather round the parent dwelling, as the offshoots of the family increase and 
demand accommodation. 

In buildings of more pretension, the character of the mouldings and general form of the 
doorway, the ornaments of the gables, the shape of the windows, even the pitch of the roof, 
and, what is more interesting than any of these, the style and character of the inscriptions 

VIGNETTE Liutel from the Guise Palace, Blyth's Close. 


so generally placed on them, all afford tests as to the period of their erection, fully as 
definite and trustworthy as those that mark the progressive stages of the ecclesiastical 
architecture of the Middle Ages. The earliest form of the crow-stepped gable presents a 
iseries of pediments surmounting the steps, occasionally highly ornamented, and always 
giving a rich efi'ect to the building. Probably the very latest specimen of this, in Edin- 
burgh, is the fine old building of the Mint, in the Cowgate, which 
bears the date 1574 over its principal entrance, while its other orna- 
ments are similar to many of a more recent date. After the adoption 
of the plain square crow-step, it seems still to have been held as an 
important feature of the building ; in many of the older houses, the 
arms or initials, or some other device of the owner, are to be found 
on the lowest of them, even where the buildings are so lofty as to 
place them almost out of sight. The dormer window, surmounted 
with the thistle, rose, &c., and the high-peaked gable to the street, 
are no less familiar features in our older domestic architecture. 
Many specimens, also, of windows originally divided by stone mullions, and with lead 
casements, still remain in the earliest mansions of the higher classes ; and in several of 
these there are stone recesses or niches of a highly ornamental character, the use of which 
has excited considerable discussion among antiquaries. A later form of window than 
the last, exhibits the upper part glazed, and finished below with a richly carved wooden 
transom, while the under half is closed with shutters, occasionally highly adorned on the 
exterior with a variety of carved ornaments. 

Towards the close of Charles II.'s reign, an entirely new order of architecture was 
adopted, engrafting the mouldings and some of the principal features of the Italian 
style upon the forms that previously prevailed. The Golfers' Land in the Canongate is 
a good and early specimen of this. The gables are still steep, and the roofs of a high 
pitch ; and while the front assumes somewhat of the character of a pediment, the crow- 
steps are retained on the side gables ; but these features soon after disappear, and give way 
to a regular pediment, surmounted with urns, and the like ornaments, a very good speci- 
men of which remains on the south side of the Castle Hill, as well as others in various 
parts of the Old Town. The same district still presents good specimens of the old wooden 
fronted lands, with their fore stairs and handsome inside turnpike from the first floor, the 
construction of which Maitland affirms to be coeval with the destruction of the extensive 
forests of the Borough Muir, in the reign of James IV. We furnish a view of some other 
remarkably picturesque specimens of the same style of building in this locality, recently 
demolished to make way for the New College. All these various features of the ancient 
domestic architecture of the Scottish Capital will come under review in the course of the 
Work, in describing the buildings most worthy of notice that still remain, or have been 
demolished during the present centmy. 

Immediately below the Castle rock, on its south side, there exists an ancient appendage 
of the Royal Palace of the Castle, still retaining the name of the King's Stables, although 
no hoof of the royal stud has been there for wellnigh three centuries. This district lies 
without the line of the ancient city wall, and was therefore not only in an exposed situs- 


tion for the royal stables, but the approach to it from the Castle must have been by a 
very inconvenient and circuitous route, although it was immediately overlooked by the 
windows of the royal apartments. It seems more probable that the earliest buildings on 
this site were erected in the reign of James IV., when the low ground to the westward 
was the scene of frequent tiltings and of magnificent tournaments, the fame of which 
spread throughout Europe, and attracted the most daring knights-errant to that chivalrous 
Monarch's Court. 1 Considerable accommodation would be required for the horses and 
attendants on these occasions, as well as for the noble combatants, among whom the King, 
it is well known, was no idle spectator ; but the buildings of that date, which we presume 
to have been reared for these public combats, were probably only of a temporary nature, as 
they were left without the extended wall, built at the commencement of the following 
reign, in 1513, a procedure not likely to have taken place had they been of much value. 
Maitland, however, mentions a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the remains of which 
were visible in his time (1750) at the foot of the Chapel Wynd ; and Kincaid, 2 who wrote 
towards the close of the century, speaks of them as still remaining there ; but since then 
they have entirely disappeared, and nothing but the name of the Wynd, which formed the 
approach to the chapel, survives to indicate its site. This may, with every probability, be 
presumed to have been at the point of junction with that and the Lady's Wynd, both 
evidently named from their proximity to the same chapel. 

On this locality, now occupied by the meanest buildings, James IV. was wont to preside 
at the joustings of the knights and barons of his Court, and to present the meed of honour 
to the victor from his own hand ; or, as in the famous encounter, already related, between 
Sir Patrick Hamilton and a Dutch knight, to watch the combat from the Castle walls, and 
from thence to act as umpire of the field. The greater portion of the ancient tilting ground 
remained unenclosed when Maitland wrote, and is described by him as a pleasant green, 
about one hundred and fifty yards long and fifty broad, adjoining the chapel of the Virgin 
Mary, on the west. But this " pleasant green " is now crowded with slaughter-houses, 
tan-pits, and dwellings of the humblest description. 

In the challenge in 1571, between Alexander Stewart, younger, of Garlies, and Sir 
William Kirkaldy of Grange, the place of combat proposed is, " upon the ground 
the baresse be-west the West Port of Edinburgh, the place accustomed, and of old 
appointed, for triell of suche maters." 3 The exact site of this interesting spot is now 
occupied in part by the western approach, which crosses it immediately beyond the Castle 
Bridge ; it is defined in one of the title-deeds of the ground, acquired by the City 
Improvements Commission, as " All and haill these houses and yards of Orchardfield, 
commonly called Livingston's Yards, comprehending therein that piece of ground called 
The Barras." 

The interest attaching to these scenes of ancient feats of arms has been preserved by 
successive events almost to our own day. In 1661 the King's Stables were purchased by 
the Town Council for 1000 Scots, and the admission of James Boisland, the seller, to the 
freedom of the city. 4 The right, however, of the new possessors, to whom they would 
seem to have been resold, was made a subject of legal investigation at a later date. Foun- 

1 Ante, p. 23. 2 Maitland, p. 172. Kincaid, p. 103. 

8 Calderwood'a Hist., Wod. Soc., vol. iii. p. 108. 4 Coun. Reg., vol. xx. p. 268, apud Kincaid, p. 103. 


tainhall records, llth March 1685, a reduction pursued by the Duke of Queensberry, as 
Constable and Captain of the Castle of Edinburgh, against Thomas Boreland and the other 
heritors and possessors of the King's Stables, alleging that they were a part of the Castle. 
The proprietors claimed to hold their property by virtue of a feu granted in the reign of 
James V. But the judges decided, that unless the defenders could prove a legal dissolu- 
tion of the royal possession, they must be held as the King's Stables, belonging to the 
Castle, and accordingly annexed to the Crown. Thomas Boreland's house still stands, 1 
immediately behind the site of the old Corn Market. It is a handsome and substantial 
erection, adorned with picturesque gables and dormer windows, which form a prominent 
feature in the oft-repeated view of " the Castle from the Vennel;" and from the date, 
1675, which still appears over the main doorway, we may presume that this substantial 
mansion, then so recently erected, had its full influence in directing the attention of the 
Duke of Queensberry to this pendicle of the royal patrimony. It bears over the entrance, 
in addition to the date, the initials T. B. and V. B., those of the proprietor, and probably 
of his brother or wife ; and above them is boldly carved the loyal inscription, 

It may reasonably be presumed that the owner must have regarded the concessions 
demanded from him on behalf of royalty, so speedily thereafter, as a somewhat freer 
translation of his motto than he had any conception of, when he inscribed it where it 
should daily remind him of the duties of a good subject. 

Several of the neighbouring houses are evidently of considerable antiquity, and may, 
with little hesitation, be referred to a much earlier date than this. Their latest reflection 
of the privileges of royalty has been that of affording sanctuary for a brief period to debtors, 
a right of protection pertaining to the precincts of royal residences, now entirely fallen into 
desuetude there, though affirmed to have proved available for this purpose within the 
memory of some aged neighbours. 2 

A little to the west of this, in the immediate neighbourhood of the Canal Basin, is a 
place still bearing the name of the Castle Barns. It is described by Maitland as for the 
accommodation of the Court when the King resided in the Castle, and it no doubt occa- 
sionally sufficed for such a purpose ; but the name implies its having been the grange or 
farm attached to the royal residence, and this is further confirmed by earlier maps, where 
a considerable portion of ground, now lying on both sides of the Lothian Road, is included 
under the term. 

But the most interesting portion of Edinburgh connected with the Castle, is its ancient 
approach. Under the name of the Castle Hill, is included not only the broad Esplanade 
extending between the fortifications and the town, but also a considerable district, 
formerly bounded on the south by the West Bow, and containing many remarkable 
and once patrician alleys and mansions, the greater portion of which have disap- 
peared in the course of the extensive changes effected of late years on that part of the 

A singularly picturesque and varied mass of buildings forms the nearest portion of the 
town to the Castle, on the south side of the approach, though there existed formerly a very 
old house between this and the Castle, as delineated in Gordon's map. This group is 

1 Disposition of House in Portsburgh, Council Charter Koom. * Chambers' s Traditions, vol. i. p. 99. 


bounded on the oast by Brown's Close, and forms a detached block of houses of various 
dates and styles, all exhibiting considerable remains of former magnificence. 

The house that now forms the south-west angle towards the Castle Hill bears, on the 
pediment of a dormer window facing the Castle, the date 1630, with the initials A. M., 
M. N. ; and there still remains, sticking in the wall, a cannon ball, said to have been shot 
from the Castle during the cannonade of 1745, though we are assured that it was placed 
there by order of government, to indicate that no building would be permitted on that 
side nearer the Castle. Through this land 1 there is an alley called Blair's Close, leading 
by several curious windings into an open court behind. At the first angle in the close, 
a handsome gothic doorway, of very elegant workmanship, meets the view, forming the 
entry to a turnpike stair. The doorway is surmounted with an ogee arch, in the tym- 
panum of which is somewhat rudely sculptured a coronet with supporters, " two deer- 
hounds," says Chambers, " the well-known supporters of the Duke of Gordon's arms." * 
This accords with the local tradition, which states it to have been the town mansion of 
that noble family ; but the style of this doorway, and the substantial character of the 
whole building, leave no room to doubt that it is an erection of a much earlier date 
than the Dukedom, which was only created in 1684. Tradition, however, which is never 
to be despised in questions of local antiquity, proves to be nearly correct in this case, as 
we find, in one of the earliest titles to the property now in the possession of the City Im- 
provements Commission, endorsed, " Disposition of House be Sir Robert Baird to William 
Baird, his second son, 1694," it is thus defined, "All and hail that my lodging in the 
Castel Hill of Edinburgh, formerly possessed by the Duchess of Gordon." This appears, 
from the date of the disposition, to have been the first Duchess, Lady Elizabeth Howard, 
daughter of the Duke of Norfolk. She retired to a Convent in Flanders during the life- 
time of the Duke, but afterwards returned to Edinburgh, where she principally resided 
till her death, which took place at the Abbey Hill in 1732, sixteen years after that of 
her husband. 

In 1711, her Grace excited no small stir in Edinburgh, by sending to the Dean and 
Faculty of Advocates, " a silver medal, with a head of the Pretender on one side, and on 
the other the British Isles, with the word Reddite." On the Dean presenting the medal, 
the propriety of accepting it was keenly discussed, when twelve only, out of seventy- 
five members present, testified their favour for the House of Hanover by voting its 
rejection. 3 

The most recent of the interior fittings of this mansion appear old enough to have 
remained from the time of its occupation by the Duchess. It is finished throughout with 
wooden panelling, and one large room in particular, overlooking the Castle Esplanade, is 
elegantly decorated with rich carvings, and with a painting (one of old Norie's 4 pictorial 
adornments) filling a panel over the chimney-piece, and surrounded by an elaborate piece 

1 The term Land, in this and similar instances throughout the Work, is used according to its Scottish acceptation, 
and signifies a building of several stories of separate dwellings, communicating by a common stair. 

2 Traditions, vol. i. p. 153. 

3 Douglas's Peerage, vol. i. p. 654. 

4 Norie, a house-decorator and painter of the last century, whose works are very common, painted on the panels of 
the older houses in Edinburgh. Pinkerton remarks, in his introduction to the "Scottish Gallery," 1799, "Norie's 
genius for landscapes entitles him to a place in the list of Scotch painters." 


of carved wood work, exhibiting traces of gilding. An explosion of gunpowder, which took 
place in the lower part of the house in 1811, attended with loss of life, entirely de- 
stroyed the ancient fireplace, which was of a remarkably beautiful Gothic design. 

Notwithstanding the comparatively modern decorations, the house still retains unequi- 
vocal remains of a much earlier period. The sculptured doorway in Blair's Close, already 
alluded to, forming the original main entrance to the whole building, is specially worthy of 
notice, and would of itself justify us in assigning its erection to the earlier part of the 
sixteenth century. It very nearly corresponds with one still remaining on the west side of 
Blackfriar's Wynd, the entrance to the turnpike stair of an ancient mansion, which appears, 
from the title-deeds of a neighbouring property, to have been the residence of the Earl of 
Morton. In the latter example, the heraldic supporters, though equally rudely sculptured, 
present somewhat more distinctly the same features as in the other, and both are clearly 
intended for unicorns. 1 

The south front of the building is finished with a parapet, adorned with gurgoils in the 
shape of cannons, and on the first floor 2 (in Blair's Close) there is still remaining an 
ancient fireplace of huge old-fashioned dimensions. The jambs are neatly carved Gothic 
pillars, similar in design to several that formerly existed in the Guise Palace, Blyth's 
Close ; and the whole is now enclosed, and forms a roomy coal-cellar, after having been 
used as a bedcloset by the previous tenant in these degenerate days. As late as 1783, this 
part of the old mansion was the residence of John Grieve, Esq., then Lord Provost of 

This house has apparently been one of special note in early times from its substantial 
magnificence. It is described in one of the deeds as " that tenement or dwelling-house 
called the Sclate House of old, of the deceased Patrick Edgar," a definition repeated in 
several others, evidently to distinguish it from its humble thatched neighbours, " lying on 
the south side of the High Street of Edinburgh, near the Castle wall, between the lands of 
the deceased Mr A. Syme, advocate, on the east, the close of the said Patrick Edgar on 
the west," &c. It is alluded to in the Diurnal of Occurrents, 7th September 1570, where 
the escape of Robert Hepburn, younger of Wauchtoun, from the Earl of Morton's adherents, 
is described. It is added " He came to the Castell of Edinburgh, quhairin he was ressauit 
with great difficultie ; for when he was passand in at the said Castell zett, his adversaries 
were at Patrik Edgar his hous end." s This mansion was latterly possessed, as we have 
seen, by the Newbyth family, by whom it was held for several generations ; and here it was 
that the gallant Sir David Baird was born and brought up.* It is said also to have been 

1 The adoption of the royal supporters may possibly have been an assumption of the Regent's, in virtue of his 
exercise of the functions of royalty. In which case, the building on the Castle Hill might be presumed also to be his, 
and deserted by him from its dangerous proximity to the Castle, when held by his rivals. This, however, is mere con- 
jecture. A note in the Diurnal of Occurrents, 20th Nov. 1572, states " In this menetyme, James Earle of Mortoun, 
regent, lay deidlie seik ; his Grace was lugeit in Williame Craikis lugeing on the south syid of the trone, in 

2 To prevent misconception in the description of buildings, we may state that, throughout the Work, the floors of 
buildings are to be understood thus : Sunk, or area floor, ground floor, first floor, second floor, &c., reckoning from 

* Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 186. 

4 On Sir David Baird's return from the Spanish Campaign, he visited his birth-place, and examined with great interest 
the scenes where he had passed his boyhood. Chambers has furnished a lively account of this in his Traditions, vol. i. 
p. 155. 


afterwards possessed by the ancient family of the Nisbets of Dirleton, and by Gordon of 
Braid; but, if so, it must have been as tenants, as it was sold by Mr Baird to A. Brown, 
Esq., of Greenbanlr, from whom it passed successively to his sons, Colonel George Brown, 
and Captain James Brown, commander of the ship Alfred, in the East India Company's 
service. From these later owners, Brown's Close, where the modern entrance to the house 
is situated, derives its name. 

The name of Webster's Close, on the same side of the street, by which Brown's Court 
was formerly known, served to indicate the site of Dr Webster's house, the originator of 
the Widows' Scheme, and long one of the ministers of the old Tolbooth Kirk. He was a 
person of great influence and popularity in his day, and entertained Dr Johnson often at 
liis table during his visit to Edinburgh. At a later period it was occupied by the Rev. Dr 
Greenfield, Professor of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres in the University, after whose time 
it passed through various hands, and closed its career as a cholera hospital, previous to its 
demolition in 1837, to make way for the Castle Road. Dr Webster built another house 
immediately adjoining this, from stones taken out of the North Loch. It was first occu- 
pied by Mr Hogg as a banking house, and afterwards, for twenty years, by the Society of 
Scottish Antiquaries, during the whole of which period, Alexander Smellie, Esq., the 
Emeritus Secretary, resided in the house. 

A very handsome old land of considerable breadth stands to the east of this. It presents 
a polished ashler front to the street, ornamented with string courses, and surmounted by 
an elegant range of dormer windows, with finials of various design. Over the main en- 
trance, in Bos well's Court, there is a shield bearing a fancy device, with the initials T. L., 
and the inscription, LORD IN THE IS AL MI TRAIST. In a compartment 
on the left of the shield, there are also the initials, I. L., R. W. ; a similar compartment 
on the right is now defaced. 1 

Immediately to the west of the Assembly Hall, a tall narrow land forms the last remain- 
ing building on the south side of the Castle Hill. In the style of its architecture it differs 
entirely from any of the neighbouring houses, presenting a pediment in front, surmounted 
with urns, and otherwise adorned according to the fashion that prevailed during the earlier 
part of the last century. 

This house, as appears from the title-deeds, was built by Robert 
Mowbray, Esq., of Castlewan, in 1740, on the site of an ancient 
mansion belonging to the Countess Dowager of Hyndford. The 
keystone of the centre window in the second floor is ornamented 
with a curiously inwrought cipher of the initials of Robert Mow- 
bray, its builder; from whose possession it passed into that of 
William, the fourth Earl of Dumfries, who succeeded his mother, 
Penelope, Countess of Dumfries in her own right, and afterwards, by the death of his 

1 The close, we believe, derives its name from a Dr Boswell, who resided there about eighty years since. We were 
informed, however, by the good lady who very politely conducted us over the house, that it was the Earl of Both- 
well's mansion, " An' nae doubt," said she, as she showed us into the best room, with its fireplace lined with Dutch 
tiles, " nae doubt mony queer doings hae taen place here between the auld Earl and Queen Mary ! " Nothing is so 
amusing, in investigating our local antiquities, as the constant association of Queen Mary's name with everything that 
is old, however homely or even ridiculous. 


brother, united with it the title of Earl of Stair ; a combination of titles in one person, 
that afforded the wits of last century a favourite source of jest in the supposed recontres of 
the two noble Earls. 

The mansion appears to have passed into this nobleman's possession very shortly after 
its erection, as among the titles there is a declaration by William Earl of Dumfries, of 
the date 20th March 1747, "that the back laigh door or passage on the west side of 
the house, which enters to the garden and property belonging to Mr Charles Hamilton 
Gordon, advocate, is ane entry of mere tolerance given to me at the pleasure of the 
owner," &c. 

The Earl was succeeded in it by his widow, who, exactly within year and day of his 
death, married the Honourable Alexander Gordon, son of the second Earl of Aberdeen. On 
his appointment as a Lord of Session in 1784, he assumed the title of Lord Eockville, 
from his estate in East Lothian. He was the last titled occupant that inhabited this 
once patrician dwelling of the Old Town ; and the narrow alley that gives access to the court 
behind, accordingly retains the name of Rockville Close. Within this close, towards the 
west, there is a plain substantial land now exposed to view by the Castle Road, originally 
possessed by Elizabeth, Countess Dowager of Hyndford, and sold by her in the year 1740, 
to Henry, the last Lord Holyroodhouse, who died at his house in the Canongate in 1755. 1 
Various ancient closes, and very picturesque front lands that formed the continuation of 
the southern side of the Castle Hill, have been swept away to give place to the new 
western approach and the Assembly Hall. One of these, Ross's Court, contained " The 
great Marquis of Argyle's House in the Castlehill," described by Creech, in his " Fugitive 
Pieces," as inhabited, at that degenerate period, by a hosier, at a rental of 12 per annum. 
Another of them, Kennedy's Close, though in its latter days a mean and dirty alley, 
possessed some interesting remains of earlier times. It probably derived its name from a 
recent occupant, a son of Sir Andrew Kennedy of Clowburn, Baronet ; but both from the 
antique character, and the remains of faded grandeur in some of its buildings, it had doubt- 
less afforded residences for some of the old nobles of the Court of Holyrood. The front land 
was said to have been the town mansion of the Earls of Cassillis, whose family name is 
Kennedy. It was adorned, at the entrance to the close, with a handsome stone architrave, 
supported on two elegant spiral fluted pillars, and the rest of the building presented a 
picturesque wooden front to the street. Within the close there was another curious old 
wooden fronted land, which tradition reported as having been at one period a nonjurant 
Episcopal chapel. An inspection of this building during its demolition, served to show 
that, although the main fabric was substantial and elegant stone work, the wooden front 
was an integral part of the original design. It was found that the main beams of the house, 
of fine old oak, were continued forward through the stone wall, so as to support the wood 
work beyond, and this was further confirmed by the existence of a large fireplace on the 
outside of the stone wall ; an arrangement which may still be seen in a similarly constructed 
land at the head of Lady Stair's Close, and probably in others. Within this house there 
was one of the beautifully sculptured gothic niches, already alluded to, of which we furnish 
a view, in the state in which it existed when the house was taken down. This we presume 

1 Douglas's Peerage. 



to have been the same that Arnot alludes to as one of the private oratories existing in his 
time, in which " The baptismal fonts are still remaining." It is described by him as a 
building nigh the Weigh-house, on the south side of the Castle Hill, which has been set 

apart for devotion. 1 This idea, first suggested by him, of 
these ornamental niches having been originally intended for 
baptismal fonts, has been repeated by some of the most care- 
ful writers on the antiquities of Edinburgh in our own day, 
although the fitness of such an appendage to a private oratory 
seems very questionable indeed. From our own observation, 
we are inclined to believe that, in the majority of cases, 
they were simply ornamental recesses or cupboards ; and 
this is the more confirmed, from their most common position 
being at the side of the fireplace, and the base in nearly 
all of them being a flat and generally projecting ledge. 
"We doubt not," Arnot adds, "but that many more of 
the present dwelling-houses in Edinburgh have formerly been consecrated to religious 
purposes ; but to discover them would be much less material than difficult ! " It may 
reasonably be regretted that one who professed to treat of our local antiquities, should have 
dismissed, in so summary and contemptuous a manner, this interesting portion of his 
subject, for which, as he acknowledges, he possessed numerous facilities now beyond our 

A house of a very different appearance from any yet described occupies a prominent 
position on the north Castle bank, and associates the surrounding district with the name of 
Scotland's great pastoral poet, Allan Ramsay. The house is of a fantastic shape, but it 
occupies a position that, we may safely say, could not be surpassed in any city in Europe, 
as the site of a " Poet's Nest." It is surrounded by a beautiful garden, and though now 
in the very heart of the city, it still commands a magnificent and varied prospect, bounded 
only on the distant horizon by the Highland hills. At the time of its erection, it was a 
suburban retreat, uniting the attractions of a country villa, with an easy access to the centre 
of the city. We have been told by a gentleman of antiquarian tastes, from information 
communicated to him nearly fifty years ago, that Ramsay applied to the Crown for as much 
ground from the Castle Hill as would serve him to build a cage for his burd, meaning his 
wife, to whom he was warmly attached, and hence the octagon shape it assumed, not unlike 
an old parrot cage ! If so, she did not live to share its comforts, her death having occurred 
in 1743. Here the poet retired in his sixtieth year, anticipating the enjoyment of its pleasing 
seclusion for many years to come ; and although he had already exhausted his energies in the 
diligent pursuit of business, he spent, in this lovely retreat, the chief portion of the last 
twelve years of his life in ease and tranquil enjoyment, though interrupted towards its close 
by a painful malady. He was remarkably cheerful and lively to the last, and his powers of 
conversation were such, that his company was eagerly courted by all ranks of society ; yet 
he delighted in nothing so much as seeing himself surrounded by his own family and their 
juvenile companions, with whom he would join in their sports with the most hearty life and 

1 Arnot, p. 245. 


The poet was extremely proud of his new mansion, and appears to have been somewhat 
surprised to find that its fantastic shape rather excited the mirth than the admiration of his 
fellow-citizens. The wags of the town compared it to a goose pie ; and on his complaining 
of this one day to Lord Elibank, his lordship replied, " Indeed, Allan, when I see you in 
it, I think they are not far wrong ! " 

On the death of Allan Ramsay, in 1757, he was succeeded in his honse by his son, the 
eminent portrait-painter, who added a new front and wing to it, and otherwise modified its 
original grotesqueness ; and since his time it was the residence of the Rev. Dr Baird, 
late Principal of the University. Some curious discoveries, made in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of the house, in the lifetime of the poet, are thus recorded in the Scots Magazine 
for 1754, " About the middle of June, some workmen employed in levelling the upper 
part of Mr Ramsay's garden, in the Castle Hill, fell upon a subterraneous chamber about 
fourteen feet square, in which were found an image of white stone, with a crown upon its 
head, supposed to be the Virgin Mary ; two brass candlesticks ; about a dozen of ancient 
Scottish and French coins, and some other trinkets, scattered among the rubbish. By 
several remains of burnt matter, and two cannon balls, it is guessed that the building above 
ground was destroyed by the Castle in some former confusion." This, we would be inclined 
to think, may have formed a portion of the ancient Church of St Andrew, of which so little 
is known ; though, from Maitland's description, the site should perhaps be looked for 
somewhat lower down the bank. It is thus alluded to by him, " At the southern side of 
the Nordloch, near the foot of the Castle Hill, stood a church, the remains whereof I am 
informed were standing within these few years, by Professor Sir Robert Stewart, who had 
often seen them. This I take to have been the Church of St Andrew, near the Castle of 
Edinburgh, to the Trinity Altar, in which Alexander Curor, vicar of Livingston, by a 
deed of gift of the 20th December 1488, gave a perpetual annuity of twenty merks Scot- 
tish money." 1 In the panelling of the Reservoir, which stands immediately to the south 
of Ramsay Garden, a hole is still shown, which is said to have been occasioned by a shot 
in the memorable year 1745. The bsll was preserved for many years in the house, and 
ultimately presented to the late Professor Playfair. 

An old stone land occupies the corner of Ramsay Lane, on the north side of the Castle 
Hill. It presents a picturesque front to the main street, surmounted with a handsome 
double dormer window. On its eastern side, down Pipe's Close, there is a large and 
neatly moulded window, exhibiting the remains of a stone mullion and transom, with which 
it has been divided; and, in the interior of the same apartment, directly opposite to this, 
there are the defaced remains of a large gothic niche, the only ornamental portions of which 
now visible are two light and elegant buttresses at the sides, affording indication of its 
original decorations. 

Tradition, as reported- to us by several different parties, assigns this house to the Laird 
of Cockpen, the redoubted hero, as we presume, of Scottish song ; and one party further 
affirms, in confirmation of this, that Ramsay Lane had its present name before the days 
of the poet, having derived it from this mansion of the Ramsays of Cockpen. 2 Its 

1 Maitland, p. 206. 

1 The Lairds of Cockpen were a branch of the Ramsays of Dalhonsie ; Douglas's Peerage, vol. i. p. 404. Maitland in 
his List of Streets, &c., mentions a Ramsay's Close without indicating it on the map. 


last recorded noble occupants are mentioned by Chambers as " two ancient spinsters, 
daughters of Lord Gray." Over the main entrance of the next land, there is a defaced 
inscription, with the date 1621. The house immediately below this is worthy of notice, 
as a fine specimen of an old wooden fronted land, with the timbers of the gable elegantly 
carved. During the early part of the last century, this formed the family mansion of 
David, the third Earl of Leven, on whom the title devolved after being borne by two 
successive Countesses in their own right. He was appointed Governor of Edinburgh Castle 
by William and Mary, on its surrender by the Duke of Gordon in 1689 ; and shortly after 
lie headed his regiment, and distinguished himself at the battle of Killicrankie by running 
away ! To the east of this there formerly stood, at the head of Sempill's Close, another 
wooden fronted land, ornamented with a curious projecting porch at the entrance to the 
close, and similar in general style to those taken down in 1845, of which we furnish an 
engraving. It hung over the street, story above story, each projecting further the higher 
it rose, as if in defiance of all laws of gravitation, until at length it furnished unquestionable 
evidence of its great age by literally tumbling down about the ears of its poor inmates, 
happily without any of them suffering very serious injury. 

Immediately behind the site of this house stands a fine old mansion, at one time 
belonging to the Sempill family, whose name the close still retains. It is a large and 
substantial building, with a projecting turnpike stair, over the entrance to which is the 
REDEEMER. ANNO DOM. 1638, and a device like an anchor, entwined with the 
letter S. Over another door, which gives entrance to the lower part of the same house, 
there is the inscription, SEDES MANET OPTIMA CCELO, with the date and device 
repeated. On the left of the first inscription there is a shield, bearing party per fesse, in 
chief three crescents, a mullet in base. The earliest titles of the property are wanting, and 
we have failed to discover to whom these arms belong. The house was purchased by 
Hugh, twelfth Lord Sempill, in 1743, from Thomas Brown and Patrick Manderston, two 
merchant burgesses, who severally possessed the upper and under portions of it By him it 
was converted into one large mansion, and apparently an additional story added to it, as 
the outline of dormer windows may be traced, built into the west wall. 

Lord Sempill, who had seen considerable military service, commanded the left wing of 
the royal army at Culloden. He was succeeded by his son John, thirteenth Lord Sempill, 
who, in 1755, sold the family mansion to Sir James Clerk of Pennycuik. 

The ancient family of the Sempills is associaled in various ways with Scottish song. 
John, son of Robert, the third Lord, married Mary Livingston, one of " the Queen's 
Maries." Their son, Sir James, a man of eminent ability and great influence in his day, 
was held in high estimation, and employed as ambassador to England in 1599; he was the 
author of the clever satire, entitled "The Packman's Paternoster." His son followed in 
his footsteps, and produced an " Elegy on Habbie Simsou, the piper of Kilbarchan," l a 
poem of great vigour and much local celebrity ; while his grandson, Francis Sempill of 
Beltrees, is the author both of the fine old song, " She rose and let me in," and of a curious 
poem preserved in Watson's collection, entitled " Banishment of Poverty," written about 

1 Watson's Collection of Scots Poems, 1706, part i. p. 32. 



IfiSO. It contains some interesting local allusions, and among others, the following, to 
the mansion of his noble relatives, which would appear at that time to have been at 
Leith : 

Kind widow Caddel sent for me 

To dine, as she did oft, forsooth ; 
But oh, alas ! that might not be, 

Her house was ov'r near the Tolbooth. 

* * * 

I slipt uiy page, aud stour'd to Leith, 

To try my credit at the wine, 
But foul a dribble fyl'd my teeth, 

He catch'd me at the Coffee-sign. 
I staw down through the Nether- Wynd, 

My Lady Sample's house was near ; 
To enter there was my design, 

Where Poverty durst ne'er appear. 

I din'd there, but I baid not lang, 

My Lady fain would shelter me ; 
But oh, alas ! I needs must gang, 

And leave that comely company. 
Her lad convoy 'd me with her key, 

Out through the garden to the flels, 
But I the Links could graithly see, 

My Governour was at my heels. 1 

There is a tradition in the family, that 
Lady Sempill having been a Catholic, the 
mansion was at that period a favourite place 
of resort for the Romish priests then visiting 
Scotland in disguise, and that there existed 
a concealed passage, apparently alluded to 
in the poem, by which they could escape on 
any sudden surprise. One other incident in 
connection with the Scottish muse deserves 

notice here : Dr Austin, the author of the celebrated song, " For lack of gold she has left 
rue," having ' given his woes an airing in song," on his desertion by an inconstant beauty, 
for the Duke of zYthol, married the Honourable Anne Sempill in 1754, by whom he 
had a numerous family. His house is still standing in the north-west corner of Brown 

To the east of Seuipill's Close, there stood till recently an ancient and curious land, 
possessing all the characteristics of those already alluded to as the earliest houses remain- 
ing in Edinburgh. It consisted only of two stories, and its internal arrangements were of 
the simplest description. The entire main floor appeared to have formed originally a 

1 Watson's Collection of Scots Poems, part i. p. 14. The full title of the Poem previously alluded to is, "A Pick- 
tooth for the Pope ; or, The Pack-man's Paternoster, set downe in a Dialogue betwixt a Pack-man and a Priest." The 
work is now very scarce. A polemical work by the same author, entitled " Sacrilege sacredly handled," London, 1619, 
contains in the preface the following quaint allusion to his name " A sacred and high subject seemeth to require a 
sacred pen-man too : True. And though I be not of the tribe of Levi, yet I hope of the tents of Sent, how Simple 

VIOMKTTK- Lord Serapill's House, Seinpill's Close, Castle HilL 


single apartment, with a huge fireplace at the west end, and a gallery added to it by the 
timber projection in front. The hearth-stone was raised above the level of the floor, and 
guarded by a stone ledge or fender, similar in character to a fireplace of the thirteenth cen- 
tury still existing at St Mary's Abbey, York. This room was lighted by a large dormer 
window in the roof, in addition to the usual windows in front ; and in the thickness of 
the stone wall, within the wooden gallery, there were two ornamental stone recesses, with 
projecting sculptured sills, and each closed by an oak door, richly carved with dolphins 
and other ornamental devices. 1 The roof was high and steep, and the entire appearance 
of the building singularly picturesque. We have been the more particular in describing 
it, from the interest attaching to its original possessors. It is defined, in one of the title- 
deeds of the neighbouring property, as " That tenement of land belonging to the chaplain 
of the chaplainry of St Nicolas's Altar, founded within the College Church of St Giles, 
within the burgh of Edinburgh ; " it is now replaced by a plain, unattractive, modern 

The most interesting portions of this district, however, or perhaps of any other among 
the private buildings in the Old Town, were to be found within the space including Todd's, 
Nairn's, and Blyth's Closes, nearly the whole of which have been swept away to provide a 
site for the New College. On the west side of Blyth's Close there existed a remarkable 
building, some portion of which still remains. This the concurrent testimony of tradition 
and internal evidence pointed out as having been the mansion of Mary of Guise, the Queen 
of James V., and the mother of Queen Mary. There was access to the different apart- 
ments, as is usual in the oldest houses in Edinburgh, by various stairs and intricate 
passages ; for no feature is so calculated to excite the surprise of a stranger, on his first visit 
to such substantial mansions, as the numerous and ample flights of stone stairs, often placed 
in immediate juxtaposition, yet leading to different parts of the building. Over the main 
doorway, which still remains, there is the inscription, in bold Gothic characters, HaUjSf 
l^OrtOt 3D00. with I. E., the initials of the King, at the respective ends of the lintel. 
On a shield, placed on the right side, the monogram of the Virgin Mary is sculptured, 2 
while a corresponding shield on the left, now entirely defaced, most probably bore the usual 
one of our Saviour. 3 

On the first landing of the principal stair, a small vestibule gave entrance to an apart- 
ment, originally of large dimensions, though for many years subdivided into various rooms 
and passages. At the right-hand side of the inner doorway, on entering this apartment, a 
remarkably rich Gothic niche remained till recently, to which we have given the name of a 
piscina, in the accompanying engraving, owing to its having a hole through the bottom of 
it, the peculiar mark of that ecclesiastical feature, and one which we have not discovered in 
any other of those niches we have examined. The name is at least convenient for distinction 
in future reference to it ; but its position was at the side of a very large and handsome 
fireplace, one of the richly clustered pillars of which appears in the engraving, on the 
outside of a modern partition, and no feature was discoverable in the apartment calculated 


1 For the description of the interior of this ancient budding, w are mainly indebted to the Rev. J. Sime, chaplain of 
Trinity Hospital, whose uncle long possessed the property. A very oblique view of the house appears in Storer's " High 
Street, from the Castle Parade." Plate 1, vol. ii. 

" Vide Pugin's Glossary of Eccl. Ornament, p. 162. ' V'gnette at the head of the Chapter. 


to lead to the idea of its having been at any time devoted to other than domestic uses. 
We may farther remark, that there were, in all, seven of these sculptured recesses, of 
different sizes and degrees of ornament, throughout the range of buildings known as the 
Guise Palace and Oratory, a sufficient number of " baptismal fonts," we should presume, 
even for a Parisian Hopital des Enfans trouves! 

Various remains of very fine wood carving have from time to time been removed from 
different parts of this building; a large and well-executed oaken front of a cupboard was 
found in the apartment below the one last referred to, with the panels wrought in elegant and 
varied designs ; ' and in another room on the same 
floor, immediately beyond the former, there existed 
a very interesting relic of the same kind, which long 
formed one of the chief attractions to antiquarian 
visitors. This was an ancient oak door, with richly 
carved panels, now preserved in the Museum of the 
Society of Antiquaries, of which we furnish a view. 
The two upper panels are decorated with shields, 
surrounded with a wreath and other ornaments of 
beautiful workmanship, and each supported by a 
winged cherub. The lower panels contain por- 
traits carved in high relief, and which, in accord- 
ance with the tradition of the locality, have generally 
been considered as the heads of James V. and his 
Queen. The lady is very little indebted to the 
artist for the flattery of her charms, and the portrait 
cannot be considered as bearing any resemblance to 
those of Mary of Guise, who is generally repre- 
sented as a beautiful woman. 2 That of the King 
has been thought to bear a considerable resemblance 
to the portraits of James V., and " has all that free 
carriage of the head, and elegant slouch of the bon- 
net, together with the great degree of manly beauty 
with which this monarch is usually represented." * 
The heraldic bearings on the shields in the upper 
panels remain to be mentioned ; one of them bears 
a deer's head erased, while on the other is an eagle 

with expanded wings grasping a star in the left foot, and with a crescent in base. The 
whole appearance of this door is calculated to convey a pleasing idea of the state of the 
arts in Scotland at the period of its execution, though in this it in no way surpasses the 
other decorations of this interesting building. The door has been cut down in some 
modern subdivision of the house, to adapt it to the humble situation which it latterly 

1 Now iu the possession of C. K. Sharpe, Esq. 

2 The Duke of Devonshire has an undoubted portrait of Mary of Guise. She is very fair complexioned, with reddish 
hair. The picture in the Trinity House at Leith is not of the Queen Regent, but a bad copy of that of her daughter, at 
St James, painted by Mytens. 

3 Chambers's Traditions, vol. i. p. 81. The " manly beauty," however, is somewhat questionable. 

1 4 8 


occupied, the outer framework on one side being nearly cut away ; but its original posi- 
tion was doubtless one of importance, suited to its highly decorated character. The 
armorial bearings, though suggesting no relation to those of the Queen Regent, serve to 
prove that it had been executed for the mansion in which it was found, as the same arms, 
impaled on one shield, was sculptured over the north doorway of the building on the 
east side of the close, with the date 1557, already alluded to, as the oldest then existing 
on any house in Edinburgh, 1 and the initials A. A., as represented below. The lintel 
had been removed from its original position to heighten the doorway, for the purpose of 
converting this part of the old Palace into a stable, and was built into a wall immediately 
adjacent ; but its mouldings completely corresponded with the sides of the doorway from 
which it had been taken, and the high land was rent up through the whole of its north 
front, owing to its abstraction. 2 This portion of the Palace formed a sort of gallery, 

extending across the north end of the whole buildings, and internally affording com- 
munication from those in Todd's and Nairn's Closes, and that on the west side of Blyth's 
Close, with the oratory or chapel on the east side of the latter. The demolition of these 
buildings brought to light many interesting features of their original character. The whole 
had been fitted up at their erection in a remarkably elegant and highly ornate style ; the 
fireplaces especially were all of large dimensions, and several of very graceful and elegant 
proportions. One of these we have already alluded to, with its fine Gothic niche at the 
side ; another in Todd's Close was of a still more beautiful design, the clustered pillars 
were further adorned with roses filling the interstices, and this also had a very rich Gothic 
niche at its side, entirely differing in form from the last, and indeed from all the others 
that we have examined, in the apparent remains of a stoup or hollowed basin, the front of 

1 It is not necessarily inferred from this that no older house exists. The walls of Holyrood admitted of being 
roofed again after the burning in 1544, and it is not unlikely that some of the oldest houses still remaining passed 
through the same fiery ordeal 

8 This stone, which is in good preservation, is now in the interesting collection of antiquities of A. G. Ellis, Esq. 
We have failed to trace from the shield any clue to the original owner or builder of this part of the Palace ; but the 
data now furnished may perhaps enable others to be more successful Sir Robert Carnegie of Kinnaird, who was 
appointed one of the Senators of the College of Justice in 1547, and as Ambassador to France in 1551, had a great 
share in persuading the Duke of Chatelherault to resign the regency to Mary of Guise, bore for arms an eagle dis- 
plajed, azure ; but his wife's arms, a daughter of Guthrie of Lunan, do not correspond with those impaled with 
them, and the initials are also irreconcilable. The same objections hold good in the case of his son, a faithful adherent 
of Queen Mary. 


which had been broken away. We furnish an engraving of this apartment also, in the 
dilapidated state in which it existed in its latter days, with the large fireplace concealed, 
all but one clustered pillar, by a wooden partition. 1 This apartment had also been finished 
with highly carved ornamental work, considerable portions of which had only been 
removed a few years previous to the entire destruction of the whole building. One 
beautiful fragment of this, which we have seen, consists of a series of oak panellings, 
about eight feet high, divided into four compartments by five terminal figures in high relief, 
and the panels all richly finished in different patterns of arabesque ornament of the 
finest workmanship. The demolition of this house in 1845 brought to light a curious 
small concealed chamber on the first floor, lighted by a very narrow aperture looking 
into Nairn's Close. The entrance to it had been by a movable panel in the room just 
described, affording access to a narrow flight of steps, ingeniously wound round the wall of 
a turnpike stair, and thereby effectually preventing any suspicion being excited by the 
appearance it made. The existence of this mysterious chamber was altogether unknown to 
the inhabitants, and all tradition had been lost as to the ancient occupants to whom it 
doubtless afforded refuge. 

Another apartment in this portion of the house, on the same flat with the fine Gothic 
fireplace described above, was called the Queen's Dead Room, where the noble occupants 
of the mansion were said to have lain in state, ere their removal to their final resting-place. 
The room had formerly been painted black, to adapt it to the gloomy purpose for which 
it was set apart, and the more recent coats of whitewash it had received very imperfectly 
veiled its lugubrious aspect. The style of the fittings of this room, however, and indeed of 
the greater portion of the building, was evidently long posterior to the date of erection, and 
the panel over the mantelpiece was filled with a landscape, painted in the manner of Old 
Norie. The inhabitant of this part of the house, when we last visited it, was a respectable 
old lady, who kept her share of the Palace in a remarkably clean and comfortable condition, 
and took great pride in pointing out its features to strangers. She professed an intimate 
knowledge of the original uses of the several portions of the house, and showed a comfort- 
able-looking room on the first floor, commanding a very fine view to the north, which 
she called the Queen's bedroom. Two round arched or waggon-shaped ceilings were 
brought to view in the progress of demolition, richly decorated with painted devices, in a 
style corresponding with the date of erection, and both concealed by flat, modern, plaster 
ceilings constructed below them. One of these, situated immediately above what was styled 
the Queen's bedroom, had been lighted by windows ranged along each side of the arched 
roof, and in its original state must have formed a lofty and very elegant room. The roof, 
which was of wood, was painted in rich arabesques and graceful designs of flowers, fruit, 
leaves, &c. , surrounding panels with inscriptions in Gothic letters. On one portion all that 
could be made out was, gC 'dLtflbiUd Of l&fffljtiotlg. On another was perfectly 
defined the following metrical legend : 

1 These remains are mentioned in Chambers's Traditions, with this addition " At the right-hand side is a pillar in 
the same taste, on the top of which there formerly, and till within these few years, stood the statue of a saint presiding 
over the font." The author had doubtless been misled in this by the traditions of the neighbourhood, and the appear- 
ance of the jamb of the ancient fireplace partially exposed. We may remark that, except where it appears absolutely 
necessary for preventing confusion or error, we have avoided directing attention to those points on which we differ from 
previous writers. 


4M paw tot. ftm nffleitit be, 

&cb pan #a? Cbrntft cVim j?oto to me. 

ssumlj ye vuai.i, uulfc iioxo thainn, 
embrace ps mitt), abanboim 

The last word, obviously >tn, had been curiously omitted, and a dash substituted for 
it, as though for a guess or puzzle. In the centre of this roof there was a ring, 
apparently for the purpose of suspending a lamp, and in one of the walls there 
was a niche with a trefoil arch very slightly ornamented. The fireplace, which was 
of very large dimensions, was entirely without ornament, and in no way corresponded 
with the style of finish otherwise prevailing in the apartment, although its size and 
massive construction seemed to prove that it must have been a portion of the original 


Another ceiling of a similar form, in a room adjoining this, on the west side of Blytli's 
Close, was adorned with a variety of emblematic designs, mostly taken from Paradin's 
Emblems (the earliest edition of which, as far as we are aware, was published at Lyons 
in 1557), and from the Traicte des Devises Royales, although some of them are not to 
be found in either of these works, such as a hand amid flames, holding up a dagger, 
with the motto, Agere et pati fortia ; a branch covered with apples, Ab insomni non 
custodita dragoni ; and two hands out of a cloud, one holding a sword, and the other a 
trowel, In utrumque paratus. This species of emblematic device was greatly in vogue in 
the sixteenth century, and various other works of similar character still exist in the libraries 
of the curious. Among other devices on this ceiling, may be mentioned an ape crushing 
her offspring in the fervour of her embrace, with the motto, Ccecus amor prolis ; a serpent 
among strawberry plants, Latet anguis in Herba ; a porcupine with apples on its spikes, 
Magnum vectigal parsimonia, Ac. 1 These devices were united by a series of ornamental 
borders, and must have presented altogether an exceedingly lively and striking appearance 
when the colours were fresh, and the other decorations of the chamber in consistent 
harmony therewith. 2 

Another interesting feature in the decoration of the ceilings of this once magnificent 
mansion, was the blazonry which distinguished the chief ornaments remaining in some of the 
rooms. These consisted of the armorial bearings of the Duke of Chatelherault, with his 
initials, I. H. ; those of France, with the initials H. R. ; and, lastly, those of Guise, 
impaled with the Scottish Lion, and having the Queen Regent's intitials, II. R. 3 The first 
of these occupied the centre of a large entablature in the ceiling of the outer vestibule of 
the apartment, where the elegant Gothic niche stood, to which we have given the name of 

1 It is much to be regretted that no attempt was made to preserve these interesting specimens of early decorations, 
which could have been so easily done, as they were all painted on wood. The restoration in one of the apartments of 
the New College would have formed a pleasing memorial of the building that it superseded. The only fragments that 
we know of are now in the collection of C . K. Sharpe, Esq. 

1 A few items from " A Collection of Inventories, &c.," 1815, may afford some idea of the probable furnishing of the 
walls. " The Queue Regentis movables, A.D. 1561. Item, ane tapestrie maid of worsett mixt with threid of gold of 
the historic of the judgment of Salatnon, the deid barne and the twa wiffis. Item, ane tapestrie of the historie of the 
Creatioun, contening nyne peces ; ane of the King Roboam, contening foure pecea ; ane other of little Salamon," &c., 
p. 126. " Of Rownd Gloibbis and Paintrie. Item, twa gloibbis, the ane of the heavin, the uther of the earth. Sex 
cartis of sundrie cuntreis. Twa paintit brcddis, the ane of the muses, and the uther of crotescque or conceptis. Aucht 
paintit broddis of the Doctouris of Almaine," &c. Ibid, p. 130. 

3 All now in the possession of C. K. Sharpe, Esq. 


a piscina ; aud those of France were in the same position iu the floor above. 1 In. their 
original position these devices were so obscured with dirt and whitewash as to appear 
merely rude plaster ornaments ; but on their removal they proved to be very fine and care- 
fully-finished carvings in oak, and retaining marks of the colours with which they had 
been blazoned. These heraldic bearings are not only interesting, as confirming the early 
tradition first mentioned by Maitland, a careful and conscientious antiquary, of its 
having been the residence of Mary of Guise, but they afford a very satisfactory clue to the 
period of her abode there. James Hamilton, Earl of Arran, was created Duke of Chatel- 
herault in the year 1548, but not fully confirmed in the title till 1551, when it was 
conceded to him as part of his reward for resigning the Regency to the Queen Dowager ; 
and that same year she returned from France to assume the government. The death of 
Henry II. of France occurred in 1559, just about the period when the complete rupture 
took place between the Regent and the Lords of the Congregation, after which time her 
chief place of residence was in Leith, until her last illness, when she took up her abode 
in the Castle of Edinburgh, where she died. The interval between these dates entirely 
coincides with that period of her history when she might be supposed to have chosen such a 
residence within the city walls, and near the Castle, while the burning of the Capital and 
Palace by the English army in 1544 was of so recent occurrence, and the buildings of the 
latter were probably only partially restored. 2 

In accordance with the traditions of the locality, we have described the property in Todd's 
Close as forming a part of the Guise Palace, entered from Blyth's Close, and with which 
there existed an internal communication. It appears, however, from the title-deeds of the 
property, that this portion of the range of ancient buildings had formed, either in the 

1 Chambers mentions (Traditions, vol. i. p. 80) having seen, in the possession of an antiquarian friend, the City Arms, 
which had been removed from a similar situation in the third floor. We have reason to believe, however, that he was 
mistaken in this, and that the arms he saw were removed from an old house on the south side of the Canongate. 

* No allusion occurs in any of the historians of the period in confirmation of the tradition. " The Queen Dowager," 
says Calderwood, A.D. 1554, "came from the Parliament Hous, to the Palace of Halyrudhous, with the honnours borne 
before her " [vol. i. p. 283], on which Knox remarks, that, " It was als seemelie a sight to see the crowne putt upon her 
head, as to see a saddle putt upon the backe of an unrulie kow ! " This, however, and similar allusions to her going to 
the Palace on occasions of state, cannot be considered as necessarily inconsistent with the occupation of a private 
mansion. The title-deeds of the property which we have examined throw no light on this interesting question. They 
are all comparatively recent, the earliest of them bearing the date of 1622. 

Some curious information about the household of Mary of Guise is furnished in the selection from the register of 
the Privy Seal of Scotland, appended to Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, e.g. 1538. " Item, for iiij elnis grene veluet, to be 
ye covering of ane sadill to the fule." Again, "for vij elnis, J elne grene birge satyne, to be the Quenis fule, ane 
goune . . . zallow birge satyne, to be hir ane kirtill . . . blaid black gray, to lyne ye kirtill," &c. , and at her coro- 
nation in 1540, " Item, deliuerit to ye Frenche telzour, to be ane cote to Serrat, the Quenis fule," &c. Green and 
yellow seems to have been the Court Fool's livery. This is one of the very few instances on record of a Female 
Buffoon or Fool, for the amusement of the Court. The Queen's establishment also included a male and female dwarf, 
whose dresses figure in these accounts, alongside of such items, as" For vj elnis of Parise blak, to be Maister George 
Balquhannane ane goune, at the Quenis Grace entre in Edinburghe." "To Janet Douglas, spous of David 
Liudesay, of the Monthe xl. li." "To the pow penny, deliuerit to David Lindesay, Lyoune herald, on the Quenis 
[Magdalen] Saull-Mea and Dirige," &c. The following items from the Treasurer's accounts show the existence of 
similar servitors in Queen Mary's household : " 1562, Paid for ane cote, hois, lynyng and making, to Jonat Musche, 
fule, 4, 5s. 6d. 1565, For grene plading to mak ane bed to Jardinar, the fule, with white fustiane, fedders, &c. Ane 
abulzement to Jaquelene gouernance de la Jordiner. 1566, Ane garment of reid and yellow to be ane gowne, hois, and 
cote, to Jane Colquhoun, fule. 1567, Ane abulzement of braid inglis yellow, to be cote and breikis, -also Barkis, to 
James Geddie, fule." Subsequent entries show that Queen Mary had a Female Fule, called " Nicolau, the Queen's 
Grace fule," who would appear, from the following item, to have been retained in the service of the Eegent after the 
Queen's flight to England : " 1570, The first day of August, be the Regent's g. speciale command, to Nichola the fule, 
to mak hir expensia and fraucht to France, 16." 


Regent's time, or almost immediately afterwards, a distinct mansion, occupied by Edward 
Hope, son of John de Hope, the ancestor of the celebrated Sir Thomas Hope, and of 
the Earls of Hopetoun, who came from France in 1537, in the retinue of Magdalen, Queen 
of James V. The earliest title-deeds are wanting, which would fix the date of its acquire- 
ment by Edward Hope, and determine the question as to whether he succeeded the Queen 
in its occupancy, or was its first possessor. 

Edward Hope was one of the most considerable inhabitants of Edinburgh in the reign 
of Queen Mary, and the old mansion, such as we have described it, retained abundant 
evidence of the adornments of a wealthy citizen's dwelling. He appears to have been a 
great promoter of the Reformation, and was accordingly chosen, in 1560, as one of the 
Commissioners for the Metropolis to the first General Assembly ; l and again we find him, 
in the following year, incurring Queen Mary's indignation, as one of the magistrates of 
Edinburgh most zealous in enforcing " the statuts of the toun " against any " masse- 
moonger, or obstinat papist, that corrupted the people, suche as preests, friers, and others 
of that sort, that sould be found within the toun." The Queen caused the provost, Archi- 
bald Douglas of Kilspindie, along with Edward Hope and Adam Fullerton, " to be charged 
to waird in the Castell, and commanded a new electioun to be made of proveist and 
bailliifes ; " but after a time her wrath was appeased, and civic matters left to take their 
wonted course. 2 Within this house, in all probability, the Earls of Murray, Morton, and 
Glencairn, John Knox, Erskine of Dun, with Lords Boyd, Lindsay, and all the leading men 
of the reforming party, have often assembled and matured plans whose final accomplish- 
ment led to results of such vast importance to the nation. The circumstances of that 
period may also suggest the probable use of the secret chamber we have described, which 
was discovered at the demolition of the building. 

The close continues to bear the name of Edward Hope's through all the title-deeds 
down to a very recent period ; and in 1622 it appears by these documents to have been 
in the possession of Henry Hope, grandson of the above, and younger brother of Sir 
Thomas, from whom, also, there is a disposition of a later date, entitled, " by Sir Thomas 
Hope of Craighall, Knight Baronet, his Majesty's Advocate," resigning all right or claim 
to the property, in favour of his niece, Christian Hope. This appears to have been a 
daughter of his brother Henry, who was little less celebrated in his own time than the 
eminent lawyer, as the progenitor of the Hopes of Amsterdam, "the merchant-princes" 01 
their day, surpassing in wealth and commercial enterprise any private mercantile company 
ever known. From Henry Hope it passed by marriage and succession through several 
hands, until in 1691 it lapsed into the possession of James, Viscount Stair, in lieu of a 
bond for the sum of " three thousand guilders, according to the just value of Dutch 
money," probably some transaction with the great house at Amsterdam. The property 
was transferred by him to his son, Sir David Dalrymple, who in 1702 sold it to 
John Wightman of Mauldsie, afterwards Lord Provost of Edinburgh,* and the founder 

1 Calderwood's Hist., Wod. Soo., vol. ii. p. 44. J Ibid, vol. ii. p. 155. Ante, p. 70. 

3 It may not be out of place here to correct an error of Maitland. He remarks (Hist, of Edinburgh, p. 227) that 
" the title of Lord, annexed to the Provost, being by prescription, and not by grant, every Provost iu the kingdom has 
as great a right to that epithet as the Provost of Edinburgh hath. " It appears, however, from Fountainhall's Decisions 
(Folio, vol. i. p. 400), that " The town, in a competition betwixt them and the College of Justice, got a letter from the 
King [Charles It.] iu 1667, by Sir Andrew Ramsay, then their Provost procurement, determining then- Provost should 


of the school recently rebuilt in Ramsay Lane, that still bears his name. Since then it 
shared the fate of most of the patrician dwellings of the Old Town ; its largest apartments 
were subdivided by flimsy partitions into numerous little rooms, and the old mansion 
furnished latterly a squalid and straitened abode for a host of families of the very humblest 
ranks of life. 

The external appearance of this interesting range of buildings is more easily described 
with the pencil than the pen. The accompanying engraving exhibits the front to the 
Castle Hill, and also shows a curious feature that attracted considerable notice, at the 
entrance to Todd's Close, where, owing to the construction of the overhanging timber 
fronts, the whole weight of the buildings on each side seemed to be borne by a single 
slender stone pillar, of neat proportions, though exhibiting abundant evidence of age and 
long exposure to violence. 

The buildings already described in Blyth's Close stood upon the west side, where a 
portion of them still remains. They retained, in the relics of their ancient decorations, 
evidence which appears to confirm the tradition of their having at one period been the 
residence of the Queen Regent, Mary of Guise ; but it is to that on the east side alone that 
anything of an ecclesiastical character can, with propriety, be assigned. 

About halfway down the close, and directly opposite the main entrance on the west side, 
a projecting turnpike-stair gave access to a vestibule on the first floor, which formed only a 
small portion of what had originally been a large and magnificent apartment. This we 
conceive to have been what Maitland describes as " the chapel or private oratory of Mary of 
Lorraine." 1 Immediately on entering from the stair, a large doorway appeared on the 
left hand, which had apparently given access to a gallery leading across to the Palace on 
the opposite side of the close. Beyond this there was a niche placed, as usual, at the side 
of a large and handsome fireplace, with clustered Gothic pillars, of the same form as those 
already described in other parts of the building. The mouldings of this niche corresponded 
in character with those on the opposite side of the close, but the sculptured top had been 
removed. In the east wall, however, and almost directly opposite the fireplace, there was 
a large and highly ornamental niche, 3 of which we furnish a view. In the centre there 
was the figure of an angel holding a shield, and the whole character of the tracery and other 
ornaments was in the richest style of decorated Gothic. 4 It, in all probability, served as a 
credence table, or other appendage to the altar of the chapel. 

This apartment was occupied as a schoolroom, about the middle of last century, by a 
teacher of note, named Mr John Johnstone. " When he first resided in it, there was a 
curious urn in the niche, and a small square stone behind the same, of so singular an 
appearance, that, to satisfy his curiosity, he forced it from the wall, when he found in the 
recess an iron casket, about seven inches long, four broad, and three deep, having a lid like 
that of a caravan-trunk, and secured by two clasps falling over the key-holes, and corn- 
have the same place and precedency within the town precincts that was due to the Mayors of London or Dublin, and 
that no other Provost should be called Lord Provost but he ; " a privilege that seema to have been lost sight of by the 
civic dignitaries of the good town. 

2 Maitland, p. 206. Now in the collection of C. K. Sharpe, Esq. 

4 This and various other examples serve to show that the principles of pure Gothic architecture were followed to a 
much later date in Scotland than in England. The foundation stone of Caius College, Cambridge, for example, a good 
specimen of the hybrid style of debased Gothic, was laid in 1565. 



municating with some curious and intricate machinery within.'" This interesting relic 
was obtained from a relative of the discoverer by Robert Chambers, Esq., the author of the 

" Traditions of Edinburgh," by whom it was 
presented to Sir Walter Scott. It was empty 
at the time of its discovery, but is supposed to 
have been used for holding the smaller and 
more valuable furnishings of the altar. It is 
now in the collection at Abbotsford, and 
has all the appearance of great antiquity. 
Portions of another curious relic, found near 
the same spot, and presented by the late 
E. A. Drummond Hay, Esq., to the Society 
of Antiquaries, are thus described in the 
list of donations for 1829: "An infantine 
head and hand, in wax, being all that 
remained of a little figure of the child Jesus, 
discovered in May 1828, in a niche care- 
fully walled up in the chapel of the house 
formerly occupied by Mary of Lorraine, in 
Blyth's Close, Castle Hill." 2 

Considerable fragments of very fine carving 

in oak remained in the chapel till within these few years. One specimen in particular, 
now in the possession of C. K. Sharpe, Esq., presents a richly carved and exceedingly 
beautiful design of grapes and vine leaves, surmounted by finials ; and other portions of 
the same decorations have recently been adopted by the Duke of Sutherland, as models 
for the carved work introduced by him in the interior fittings of Dunrobin Castle. The 
windows of the chapel were very tall and narrow, and singularly irregular in their 
height ; their jams were splayed externally on the one side, as is not uncommon in the 
narrow closes of the Old Town, to catch every ray of light, and exhibited the remains 
of stone mullions with which they had been originally divided. 

In the east wall of this building, which still stands, there is a curious staircase built in 
the thickness of the wall, which afforded access from the chapel to an apartment below, 
where there was a draw-well of fine clear water, with a raised parapet of stone surrounding 
it. Immediately to the north of this, on the same floor, another room existed with inter- 
esting remains of former grandeur; the fireplace was in the same rich style of Gothic design 
already described, and at the left side there was a handsome Gothic niche, with a plain one 
immediately adjoining it. The entrance to this portion of the Palace was locked and 
cemented with the rust of years ; the door leading to the inner staircase was also built up, 
and it had remained in this deserted and desolate state during the memory of the oldest of 
the neighbouring inhabitants; excepting that " ane sturdy beggar" lived for some time, 
rent free, in one of the smaller rooms, his only mode of ingress or egress to which was by 

1 Traditions, vol i. p. 85. 

4 The genuineness of this relic has been called in question, from its resemblance to the fragments of a large doll, bub 
those who have visited the Continent will readily acknowledge the groundlessness of such an objection. 



the dilapidated window. The same difficulties had to be surmounted in obtaining the 
sketch, from which the accompanying vignette is given. 
In the highest floor, 

. fJTT^--"- ** : -*&f* crc. "-- -, 



various indications of the 
same elaborate style of de- 
coration were visible as we 
have described in the ceil- 
ings of the Palace. A curi- 
ous fragment of painting, 
filling an arch on one of the 
walls, was divided into two 
compartments by very ele- 
gant ornamental borders. 
The picture on the left 
represented a young man 
kneeling before an altar, on 
which stood an open vessel amid flames, while, from a dark cloud overhead, a hand issued, 
holding a ladle, and just about to dip it into the vessel. A castellated mansion, with 
turrets and gables in the style of the sixteenth century, appeared in the distance ; and at 
the top there was inscribed on a scroll the words Demum purgabitvr. In the other com- 
partment, a man of aged and venerable aspect was seen, who held in his hands a heart, 
which he appeared to be offering to a figure like a bird, with huge black wings. Above 
this were the words . . Impossibile est. The whole apartment had been decorated in 
the same style, but only very slight remains of this were traceable on the walls. On the 
removal of the lath and plaster from the ceilings of the lower rooms, the beams, which 
were of solid oak, and the under sides of the flooring above, were all covered with orna- 
mental devices, those on the main beams being painted on three sides, and divided at 
short distances by fillets or bands of various patterns running round them. 1 

The somewhat minute description which we have given of these ancient buildings will, 
we think, amply bear us out in characterising them as among the most interesting that old 
Edinburgh possessed. Here we have good reason for believing the widow of James V. 
took up her residence during the first years of her regency ; here, in all probability, 
the leading churchmen and Scottish nobles who adhered to her party have met in grave 
deliberation, to resist the earlier movements that led to the Reformation ; in this mean 
and obscure alley the ambassadors and statesmen of England and France, and the 
messengers of the Scottish Queen, have assembled, and have been received with fitting 
dignity in its once splendid halls ; while within the long desecrated fane royal and noble 
worshippers have knelt around its altar, gorgeous with the imposing ceremonials of the 
Catholic Church. It is a dream of times long gone by, of which we would gladly have 
retained some such remembrance as the dilapidated mansion afforded; but time and modern 
changes have swept over its old walls with ruthless hand, and this feeble description of its 
decrepitude is probably the best memorial of it that survives. 

There still remains to be described the fine old stone land at the head of Blyth's Close, 

1 The Vignette at the end of the Chapter is from one of the oak beams belonging to the late Mr Hugh Paton. 


which appears prominently in our view of the Castle Hill, with the inscription LAVS 
DEO, and the date 1591, curiously wrought in antique iron letters on its front. The most 
ancient portions of the interior that remain seem quite as early in character as those we 
have been describing ; and indeed the back part of it, extending into the close, has appa- 
rently been built along with the mansion of the Queen Regent. The earliest titles of this 
building now existing are two contracts of alienation, bearing date 1590, by which the tipper 
and under portions of the land are severally disposed of to Robert M'Naught and James 
Rynd, merchant burgesses. The building, in all probability, at that period was a timber- 
fronted land, similar to those adjoining it, which were taken down in 1845. Immediately 
thereafter, as appears from the date of the building, the handsome polished ashlar front, 
which still remains, had been erected at their joint expense. In confirmation of this there 
is sculptured, under the lowest crow-step at the west side of the building, a shield bearing 
an open hand, in token of amity, as we presume, with the initials of both proprietors. 1 

In an apartment on the second floor of this house, an arched ceiling was accidentally 
discovered some years since, decorated with a series of sacred paintings on wood, of a very 
curious and interesting character. A large circular compartment in the centre contains 
the figure of our Saviour, with a radiance round His head, and His left hand resting on 
a royal orb. Within the encircling border are these words, in gilded Roman letters, on 
a rich blue ground, Ego sum via, veritas, et vita, 14 Jokne. The paintings in the larger 
compartments represent Jacob's Dream, Christ asleep in the storm, the Baptism of 
Christ, and the Vision of Death from the Apocalypse, surmounted by the symbols of the 
Evangelists. The distant landscape of the Lake of Galilee in the second picture presents 
an amusing, though by no means unusual liberty, taken by the artist with his subject. 
It consists of a view of Edinburgh from the north, terminating with Salisbury Crags on 
the left and the old Castle on the right ! This pictorial license aifords a clue as to the 
probable period of the work, which, as far as it can be trusted, indicates a later period than 
the Regency of Mary of Guise. The steeples of the Nether Bow Port and the old Weigh- 
house are introduced the first of which was erected in the year 1606, and the latter 
taken down in lb'60. The fifth picture, and the most curious of all, exhibits an allegori- 
cal representation, as we conceive, of the Christian life. A ship, of antique form, is seen 
in full sail, and bearing on its pennon and stern the common symbol, IHS. A crowned 
figure stands on the deck, looking towards a burning city in the distance, and above him 
the word V.5L On the mainsail is inscribed Caritas, and over the stern, which is in the 
fashion of an ancient galley, [Sa]piencia. Death appears as a skeleton, riding on a dark 
horse, amid the waves immediately in front of the vessel, armed with a bow and arrow, 
which he is pointing at the figure in the ship, while a figure, similarly armed, and mounted 
on a huge dragon, follows in its wake, entitled Persecutio, and above it a winged demon, 
over whom is the word Diabolus. In the midst of these perils there is seen in the sky a 
radiance surrounding the Hebrew word mrp, and from this symbol of the Deity a hand 
issues, taking hold of a line attached to the stern of the vessel. The whole series is executed 
with great spirit, though now much injured by damp and decay. The broad borders between 
them are richly decorated with every variety of flowers, fruit, harpies, birds, and fancy 

1 This is one undoubted example of the date on a building being put on at a considerably later period than its erec- 
tion, an occurrence which we have found reason to suspect in various other instances. 



devices, and divide the ceiling into irregular square and round compartments, with raised 
and gilded stars at their intersections. The fifth painting of which we have endeavoured 
to convey some idea to the reader possesses peculiar interest, as a specimen of early 
Scottish art. It embodies, though under different forms, the leading features of the im- 
mortal allegory constructed by John Bunyan for the instruction of a later age. The Chris- 
tian appears fleeing from the City of Destruction, environed still by the perils of the way, 
yet guided, through all the malignant opposition of the powers of darkness, by the unerring 
hand of an over-ruling Providence. These paintings were concealed, as in similar examples 
previously described, by a modern flat ceiling, the greater portion of which still remains, 
rendering it difficult to obtain a near view of them. Mr Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe has, 
in his interesting collection, another curious relic of the decorations of this apartment, 
consisting of a group of musicians, which may possibly have been one of the " paintit brod- 
dis " mentioned among "the Quene Regentis Paintrie." One of the band is playing on 
a lute, another on a horn, &c., and all with their music-books before them. This painting 
was rescued by its present possessor, just as the recess or cupboard, of which it formed the 
back, was about to be converted into a coal-cellar. Fragments of a larger, but much ruder, 
copy of the same design were discovered on the demolition of the fine old mansion of Sir 
William Nisbet of the Dean, in 1845, which bore above its main entrance the date 1614. 
Most of the other portions of the interior have been renewed at a later period, and exhibit 
the panelling and decorations in common use during the last century. 

This building appears, from the various titles, to have been the residence of a succession 
of wealthy burgesses, as usual with the "fore tenements of land," the closes being then, 
and down to a comparatively recent date, almost exclusively occupied by noblemen and 
dignitaries of rank and wealth. 

Fainted Oak Beam from Mary of Guiae'i CbapeL 


1,1 ANY citizens still liviug can remember 
when the wide thoroughfare immediately 
below the Castle Hill used to be covered with 
the stalls and booths of the " lawn merchants," 
with their webs and cloths of every description, 
giving that central locality all the appearance 
of a fair. This also, however, with other old 
customs, has passed away, and the name only 
remains to preserve the memory of former 
usages, although such was the importance of 
this locality in former times, that its occupants 
had a club of their own, styled " The Lawn- 
market Club," which was celebrated in its 
day for the earliest possession of all important 

The old market-place was bounded on the 
west by the Weigh-house, or " butter troue," 
as it is styled in some of the title-deeds of the 
neighbouring buildings, and on the east by the 
ancient Tolbooth, and formed in early times 
the only open space of any great extent, with 
the single exception of the Grassmarket, that 
existed within the town walls. 

The Weigh-house, of which we furnish an 
engraving, was a clumsy and inelegant building, 

already alluded to, 1 occupying the centre of the street at the head of the West Bow. It 
was rebuilt in the year 1660 on the site of a previous erection, which is shown in Gordon's 
map of 1646, adorned with a steeple at the east end, and appears, from contemporaneous 
accounts, to have been otherwise of an ornamental character. The only decorations on 

1 Vide pp. 96 7. 
VIGNETTE. Gladstone's Land. 


the latter building, consisted of a rudely executed ogee pediment, containing the city 
arms, and surmounted by three tron weights. On Queen Mary's entry to Edinburgh in 
1561, this was the scene of some of the most ingenious displays of civic loyalty. Her 
Majesty dined in the Castle, and a triumphal arch was erected at the Weigh-house, or 
"butter trone," where the keys of the city were presented to her by "ane bony barne, 
that desceudit doun fra a cloude, as it had bene ane angell," and added to the wonted 
gift a Bible and Psalm-book additions which some contemporary historians hint were 
received with no very good grace. 1 Cromwell established a guard in the older building 
there, while the Castle was held out against him in 1650, and prudently levelled it with 
the ground on gaining possession of the fortress, lest it should afford the same cover to 
his assailants that it had done to himself. The latter erection proved equally serviceable 
to the Highlanders of Prince Charles in 1745, when they attempted to blockade the Castle, 
and starve out the garrison by stopping all supplies. The first floor of the large stone 
land, in front of Milne's Court, was occupied at the same period as the residence and guard- 
room for the officers commanding the neighbouring post ; and it is said that the dislodged 
occupantj- a zealous Whig, took his revenge on them after their departure by advertising 
for the recovery of missing articles abstracted by his compulsory guests. The court 
immediately behind this appears to have been one of the earliest attempts to substitute 
an open square of some extent for the narrow closes that had so long afforded the sole 
town residences of the Scottish gentry. The main entrance is adorned with a Doric enta- 
blature, and bears the date 1690. The principal house, which forms the north side of the 
court, has a handsome entrance, with neat mouldings, rising into a small peak in the 
centre, like a very flat ogee arch. This style of ornament, which frequently occurs in 
buildings of the same period, seems to mark the handiwork of Eobert Milne, the builder 
of the most recent portions of Holyrood Palace, and seventh Royal Master Mason, whose 
uncle's tomb, erected by him in the G-reyfriars' Churchyard, records in quaint rhymes 
these hereditary honours : 

Reader, John Milne, who maketh the fourtli John, 

And, by descent from father unto son, 

Sixth Master-Mason, to a royal race 

Of seven successive kings, sleeps in this place. 

The houses forming the west side of the court are relics of a much earlier period, that 
had been delivered from the durance of a particularly narrow close by the march of fashion 
and improvement in the seventeenth century. The most northerly of them long formed 
the town mansion of the lairds of Comiston, in whose possession it still remains ; while that 
to the south, though only partially exposed, presents a singularly irregular and picturesque 

1 Ante, p. 71. " Quhen hir grace come fordwart to the butter troue of the said burgh, the nobilitie and convoy foir- 
said precedand, at the qubilk butter trone thair was ane port made of tymber, in maist honourable maner, cullorit with 
fyne cullouris, hungin with syndrie armes ; upon the quhilk port was singand certane barneis in the maist hevinlie wyis ; 
under the quhilk port thair wes ane cloud opyunand with four levis, in the quhilk was put ane bony barne. And quhen 
the queues hienes was cumand throw the said port, the said cloud opynnit, and the barne dscendit doun as it had beene 
ane angell, and deliuerit to her hienes the keyis of the toun, togidder with ane Bybill and ane Psalme Buik, couerit with 
fyne purpourit veluot ; and efter the said barne had spoken some small speitehes, he deliuerit alsua to her hieues thre 
writtingis, the tennour thairof is vncertane. That being done, the barne asceudit in the cloud, and the said clud scekit j 
and thairefter the quenis grace come doun to the tolbuith. " Diurnal of Ocurrents, p. 68. 


aspect dormer windows rise above the line of roof and a bold projection supported on 
a large ornamental stone corbel, admits of a very tall window at an oblique angle below 
it, evidently constructed to catch every stray gleam of light, ere the narrow alley gave way 
to the improvements of the royal master-mason. Over the entrance to the stair there is 
the very common inscription, Blissit . be . God . in . al . his . Giftis., with the date 1580; 
and while the whole of the east side is substantially built of hewn stone, the south front, 
looking directly down the old West Bow is a very picturesque timber facade, with 
irregular gables, and each story thrusting its beams farther into the street than the one 
below it. 

One of the earliest proprietors of this ancient dwelling appears from the titles to have 
been Bartholomew Somerville, merchant burgess ; the most conspicuous among those 
generous citizens to whose liberality we are mainly indebted for the establishment of the 
University of Edinburgh on a lasting basis. " In December [1639] following," says 
Craufurd, " the Colledge received the greatest accession of its patrimony which ever had 
been bestowed by any private person. Mr Bartholomew Somervale (the son of Peter 
Somervale, a rich burgess, and sometime Baylie), 1 having no children, by the good counsel 
of his brothers-in-law, Alex. Patrick and Mr Samuel Talfar, mortified to the College 
20,000 merks, to be employed for maintenance of an Professor of Divinity, and 6000 
merks for buying of Sir James Skeeu's lodging and yaird, for his dwelling." 2 This 
worthy citizen was succeeded in the old tenement by Sir John Harper of Cam- 

Immediately to the east of Milne's Court, a more modern erection of the same kind 
exists, which is associated in various ways with some of the most eminent men that have 
added lustre to the later history of the Scottish capital. To this once fashionable and 
aristocratic quarter David Hume removed in 1762 from his previous place of residence in 
Jack's Land, Canongate ; here also, and in the same house, Boswell resided when he 
received and entertained Paoli, the Patriot Corsican Chief, in 1771, and the still more 
illustrious Dr Johnson, when he visited Edinburgh in 1773, on his way to the Western 

Entering by a narrow alley which pierces the line of lofty houses along the Lawn- 
market, the visitor finds himself in a large court, surrounded by high and substantial 
buildings, which have now evidently fallen to the lot of humbler inhabitants than those for 
whom they were erected. These spaces, walled off by the intervening houses from the 
main street, were in the Scottish metropolis like the similar edifices of the French nobility, 
frequently designed with the view of protecting those who dwelt within the gate from the 
unwelcome intrusion of either legal or illegal force. But James's Court scarcely dates 
back to times so lawless, having only been erected by a wealthy citizen in 1727, on the 
site of various ancient closes, containing the residences of judges, nobles, and dignitaries of 

1 Peter Somerville's house stood near the head of the West Bow, with the Somerville arms over the doorway, sur- 
mounted by his initials, and the date 1602. 

a Craufurd's Hist of the University, p. 136. An apartment on the first floor of this land, lighted by two large win- 
dows looking into Milne's Court, has a modern ceiling about ten feet from the floor a comparison of this, with the 
height of the next story, shows, that a space of about three feet must be enclosed between it and the floor above. It is 
exceedingly probable that the modern plaster-work may conceal another painted roof similar to those described in Blyth's 


note in their day, the most eminent of whom was the celebrated lawyer, Sir John Lander, 
better known by his judicial title of Lord Fountainhall. This interesting locality is 
thus described by the latest biographer of David Hume : " Entering one of the doors 
opposite the main entrance, the stranger is sometimes led by a friend, wishing to afford 
him an agreeable surprise, down flight after flight of the steps of a stone staircase, and 
when he imagines he is descending so far into the bowels of the earth, he emerges on 
the edge of a cheerful, crowded thoroughfare, connecting together the Old and New Town ; 
the latter of which lies spread before him, a contrast to the gloom from which he 
has emerged. When he looks up to the building containing the upright street through 
which he has descended, he sees that vast pile of tall houses standing at the head of the 
Mound, which creates astonishment in every visitor of Edinburgh. This vast fabric is 
built on the declivity of a hill, and thus one entering on the level of the Lawnmarket, 
is at the height of several stories from the ground on the side next the New Town. I 
have ascertained," he adds, " that by ascending the western of the two stairs facing the 
entry of James's Court, to the height of three stories, we arrive at the door of David 
Hume's house, which, of the two doors on that landing-place, is the one towards the left." l 

During Hume's absence in France, this dwelling was occupied by Dr Blair, and on his 
leaving it finally for the house he had built for himself in St Andrew Square, at the cor- 
ner of St David Street, James Boswell became its tenant. Thither, in August 1773, he 
conducted Dr Johnson, from the White Horse Inn, Boyd's Close, Canongate, then one of 
the chief inns in Edinburgh, where he had found him in a violent passion at the waiter, 
for having sweetened his lemonade without the ceremony of a pair of sugar-tongs. The 
doctor, in his indignation, threw the lemonade out of the window, and seemed inclined to 
send the waiter after it. 2 

We have often conversed with a gentleman whose mother had been present at a tea- 
party in James's Court, on the occasion of the doctor's arrival in town, and the impression 
produced on her by the society of the illustrious lexicographer was summed up in the very 
laconic sentence in which Mrs Boswell had then expressed her opinion of him, that he 
was " a great brute ! " 3 Margaret, Duchess of Douglas, was one of the party, " with all 
her diamonds," a lady somewhat noted among those of her own rank for her illiteracy, 
but the doctor reserved his attentions during the whole evening almost exclusively for 
the Duchess. 4 The character thus assigned to him is fully borne out in the lively letters 
of Captain Topham, who visited Edinburgh in the following year. He describes the recep- 
tion of the doctor, by all classes, as having been of the most flattering kind, and he adds, 
" From all I have been able to learn, he repaid all their attention to him with ill-breeding ; 

1 Burton's Life of Hume, vol. ii. p. 336. The western portion of this vast fabric was destroyed by fire in 1858. On 
its site has been erected, in the old Scottish style, an equally lofty structure for the Savings Bank and Free Church 

2 Boswell's Johnson, by Croker, vol. ii. p. 259. 

3 The opinion of Lord Auchinleck about " the Auld Dominie " is well known, and the doctor's hostess, Mrs Boswell, 
though assiduous in her attentions to her guest, seems to have coincided in opinion with the wit, who, on hearing him 
styled by some of his admirers a constellation of learning, said, " Then he must be the Ursa Major." Boswell tells, 
with his usual naivete 1 , that his wife exclaimed to him on one occasion, with natural asperity, "I have seen many a bear 
led by a man, but I never before saw a man led by a bear ! " Boswell's Johnson, note, Nov. 27, 1773. 

4 " An old lady," as Dr Johnson describes her, "who talks broad Scotch with a paralytic voice, and is scarce under- 
stood by her own countrymen." Boswell's Johnson, by Croker, vol. i. p. 209. 



and when in the company of the ablest men in this country, his whole design was to show 
them how little he thought of them." 1 

It is told of Johnson, that being on one occasion in a company where Hume was 
present, a mutual friend offered to introduce him to the philosopher, when the intolerant 
moralist roared out, " No, sir ! " It is not therefore without reason that Mr Burton 
questions -if Johnson would have been able to " sleep o' nights," had he learned that 
he had been entrapped into the arch-infidel's very mansion ! 2 

In Hume's day the North Loch lay directly below the windows of his house, with gar- 
dens extending to its margin, and a fine open country beyond, diversified with woodland 
and moor, where now the modern streets of the Scottish capital cover a space vastly ex- 
ceeding its whole ancient boundaries for many centuries. Hume appears to have derived 
great pleasure from the magnificent prospect which his elevated residence secured to him ; 
yet although he writes to Dr Robertson in 1759, "I have the strangest reluctance to 
change places," he was, nevertheless, one of the earliest to emigrate beyond the North Loch. 
In 1770 he commenced building his new house, which was the first erected in South St 
David Street, and in which he died. The old dwelling, however, was not immediately 
abandoned to the plebeian population ; Boswell, as we have seen, succeeded him, and he 
was followed in its occupancy by the Lady Wallace, Dowager, relict of Sir Thomas Wal- 
lace of Cragie. 3 The floor below Hume's house was the property of Andrew Macdowal, 
Esq., advocate, author of the " Institutional Law of Scotland," a ponderous mass of legal 
learning in three folio volumes. On his elevation to the bench in 1755, under the title of 
Lord Bankton, his lordship, in order to adapt the flat in the Lawnmarket to his increased 
dignity and rank, purchased the one below it, on a level with the court, and united 
the two by an elegant internal stair of carved mahogany, which has since been displaced 
by a more homely substitute, on the conversion of the old judge's dwelling into a printing 

Immediately to the east of the lofty range of buildings fronting James's Court, houses 
of an early date, and of considerable variety of character, again occur. The first of these, 
represented at the head of the chapter, is a tall and narrow stone land, of a marked char- 
acter, and highly adorned, according to the style prevailing at the close of the sixteenth 
century. The house belonged of old to Sir Robert Baunatyne, chaplain, and after passing 
through several hands, was purchased in 1631 by Thomas Gladstone, merchant burgess, who 
appears to have built the present stone front. On a shield below the crow-steps of the west 

1 Topham's Letters, London, 1776, p 139. 

8 We have adhered in this to the biographer of Hume, who assigns the same house to both. It is certain that Hume 
had a tenant of the name of Boswell ; and as the house below was a large residence, consisting of two flats, the probability 
of Boswell occupying the single flat seeins confirmed by the fact that he "regretted sincerely that he had not also a room 
for Mr Scott," afterwards Lord Stowell, who had accompanied the doctor from Newcastle to the White Horse Inn, 
Edinburgh. Dr Johnson's evidence, however, contradicts this. " Boswell," he writes, " has very handsome and 
spacious rooms, level with the ground at one side of the house, and on the other four stories high," a remark only 
explicable, on this idea, by supposing him to refer to the peculiar character of the building, as described above. 

s So late as 1771, his brother, Joseph Hume, Esq. of Ninewells, occupied a fashionable residence in the fifth flat of 
an old house that stood at the junction of the Lawnmarket with Melbourne Place. The following notice of the residence 
of Lady Hinewells, the grandmother, as we presume, of Hume, occurs in a series of accounts of a judicial sale of pro- 
perty in Parliament Close, in the year 1680 : " The house presently possest be the Lady Ninewells, being the fourth 
storie above the entrie from the long trauss of the tenement upon the east side of the kirk-heugh, consisting of four fire 
rowmes, with aue sellar, at a yearly rent of ane hundred fourtie and four pounds Scotts. " 


gable are the initials T. G. and B. G., while on a corresponding shield to the east a 
curious device occurs, not unlike an ornamental key, with the bit in the form of a crescent. 
Many such fancy devices occur on the older buildings in Edinburgh, the only probable 
explanation of which appears to be that they are merchants' marks. This house is alluded 
to in the divisions of the city for the sixteen companies formed in 1634, in obedience to 
an injunction of Charles I., where the second division, on the north side of the Castle Hill, 
terminates at "Thomas Gladstone's Laud." 1 

Previous to the opening of Bank Street, Lady Stair's Close, the first below this old 
building, was the chief thoroughfare for foot passengers taking advantage of the half- 
formed earthen mound, to reach the New Town. It derives its name from Elizabeth. 
Dowager Countess of Stair, who, as the wife of the Viscount Primrose, forms one of the 
most interesting characters associated with the romantic traditions of old Edinburgh. 
Scott has made the incidents of Lady Primrose's singular story the groundwork of " Aunt 
Margaret's Mirror," perhaps the most striking of all his briefer tales ; while the scarcely 
less interesting materials preserved by the latest survivors of the past generation form 
some of the most attractive pages of " Chambers's Traditions." This story, with nearly 
all the marvellous features of Aunt Margaret's tale, received universal credit from the 
contemporaries of the principal actors in its romantic scenes, as well as from many of the 
succeeding generation. 

The Countess Dowager of Stair was long looked up to as the leader of fashion, and 
an admission to her select circle courted as one of the highest objects of ambition among 
the smaller gentry of the period. One cannot help smiling now at the idea of the leader 
of ton in the Scottish capital condescendingly receiving the elite of fashionable society 
in the second flat of a common stair in a narrow close of the Old Town ; yet such were the 
habits of Edinburgh society in the eighteenth century, at a period when the distinctions of 
rank and fashion were guarded with a degree of jealousy of which we have little conception 

A characteristic sample of the manners of the period is furnished in the evidence of 
Sir John Stewart of Castlemilk, in the celebrated Douglas Cause, affording a peep into the 
interior of Holyrood Palace about the middle of last century. Sir John Stewart states 
that, being on a visit to the Duke of Hamilton, at his lodgings in the Abbey, the Countess 
of Stair entered the room, seemingly in a very great passion, holding in her hand a letter 
from Thomas Cochrane, Esq., afterwards Earl of Dundonald, to the Duke of Douglas, in 
which he affirmed that the Countess of Stair had declared, that, to her knowledge, the 
children said to be those of Lady Jane Douglas were fictitious ; whereupon the Countess 
struck the floor three times with a staff which she had in her hand, and each time that she 
struck the floor, she called the Earl a damned villain, which her ladyship said was his 
own expression in his letter to the Duke. One can fancy the stately old lady in her high- 
heeled shoes and hoop, flourishing her cane, and crushing the obnoxious letter in her 
hand, as she applied to its author the elegant epithet' of his own suggestion. 2 

In the same close which bears her ladyship's name also resided the celebrated biblio- 
grapher and antiquary, Mr George Paton, the friend and correspondent of Lord Hailes, 
Gough, Bishop Percy, Ritson, George Chalmers, Pennant, Herd, and, indeed, of nearly all 

1 Maitland, p. 285. s Proof for Douglas of Douglas, Ksq., defender, &o. Douglas Cause. 



the most eminent venerators of antiquity, during the latter part of the eighteenth century. 
Two small volumes of the Paton Correspondence now rare and valuable have been 
published, which serve to show the very high estimation in which he was held as a literary 
antiquary, and the numerous contributions furnished by him towards the most eminent 
works of that class, only a small portion of which has been acknowledged by the recipients. 
George Paton was a man of extreme modesty and diffidence, a bachelor of retiring and 
taciturn inclinations ; yet he was neither illiberal nor unsocial in his habits ; his time, his 
knowledge, and his library, were all at the service of his friends, and though not only tem- 
perate but abstemious in his tastes, his evenings were generally spent with Herd, and 
other kindred spirits, in Johnie Dowie's Tavern, in Libberton's Wynd, the well-known 
rendezvous of the Scottish literati during that period. He was methodical in all his habits ; 
the moment eleven sounded from St Giles's steeple, his spare figure might be seen 
emerging from the wynd head, and the sound of his cane on the pavement of Lady Stair's 
Close, gave the signal to his housekeeper for his admittance. This interesting old Edin- 
burgh character bears in many respects a resemblance to the more celebrated " Elia " of 
the East India House. He obtained a clerkship in the Custom House, the whole emolu- 
ments of which, after an augmentation for many years' service, never exceeded 80 ; and 
yet with this narrow income he contrived to amass a collection of books and manuscripts 
to an extent rarely equalled by a single individual. On his death in the year 1807, at the 
advanced age of eighty-seven, his valuable library was sold by auction, occupying consider- 
ably more than a month in its disposal ; and its treasures were strenuously contended for 
by the chief bibliopolists assembled from distant parts of the kingdom. 1 

The old mansion in Lady Stair's Close bears over its entrance this pious inscription, 
" FEAEE THE LORD, AND DEPART FROM EVILL," with the date 1622, and the 
arms and initials of its original proprietors, Sir William Gray of Pittendrum, the 
ancestor of the present Lord Gray, and Geida or Egidia his wife, sister of Sir John 
Smith of Grothill, Provost of Edinburgh. Sir William was a man of great influence and 
note; although, by virtue of a new patent, granted by Charles I., the ancient title of Lord 
Gray reverted to his family, he devoted himself to commerce, and became one of the most 
extensive Scottish merchants of his day, improving and enlarging the foreign trade of his 
country, and acquiring great wealth to himself. On the breaking out of civil commotions, 
he adhered to the royal party, and shared in its misfortunes ; he was fined by the Parlia- 
ment 100,000 merks, for corresponding with Montrose, and imprisoned first in the Castle 

1 The correspondence between Paton and Gough full of matter deeply interesting to the antiquary and topographer 
was some years since prepared for publication by Mr Turnbull, Secretary to the Society of Antiquaries, but owing 
to the paucity of subscribers, the MS. was thrown aside, to the great loss of literary students. 


and afterwards in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, till the penalty was modified to 35,000 
merks, which was instantly paid. 1 Other and still more exorbitant exactions followed, 
until his death in 1648, which was believed to have been accelerated by his share in the 
troubles of the period. Other cares, however, besides those attendant on civil strife, 
embittered the latter years of the noble merchant. From Sir Thomas Hope's diary, 12th 
May 1645, we learn that " a dauchter of Sir William Grayis departit off the plaig, quhilk 
put us all in greit fear." : So that the old mansion in Lady Stair's Close remains a 
memorial of the terrible plague of 1645, the last and most fatal visitation of that dreadful 
scourge which Edinburgh experienced, and which, like its first recorded appearance in 
1513 the memorable year of Flodden followed in the wake of a disastrous war, while 
the city was awaiting, in terror, the victorious forces of Montrose. 

The " Statuts for the Baillies of the Mure," 3 first enacted in 1567, were renewed 
with various modifications at this period, sealing up the houses where " the angel of the 
pestilence" had stayed his boding flight, and forbidden to his victims the rites of sepulture 
with their kindred. One interesting memorial of the stern rule of " the Baillies of the 
Mure," during this terrible year, still remains in a field to the east of Warrender House, 
Bruntsfield Links, a central spot in the Old Borough Moor. Here, amid the luxuriant 
pasturage of the meadow, and within sight of the busy capital, a large flat tombstone may 
be seen, timeworn and grey with the moss of age ; it bears on it a skull, surmounted by 
a winged sandglass, and a scroll inscribed mors pace .... kora ceeli, and below this a 
shield bearing a saltier, with the initials M. I. R, and the date of the fatal year 1645. 
The M. surmounts the shield, and in all probability indicates that the deceased had taken 
his degree of Master of Arts. A scholar, therefore, and perhaps one of noble birth, has 
won the sad pre-eminence of slumbering in unconsecrated ground, and apart from the dust 
of his fathers, to tell of the terrors of the plague to other generations. 

The lady of Sir William Grey appears to have long survived her husband, as in the 
writs of some neighbouring properties, the old alley is styled Lady Grey's Close. The 
Countess of Stair's house, we may add, is proved from the titles to have been the upper 
story, " immediately above the dwelling-house, which partained to the heirs of David 
Gray, merchant burgess," doubtless a descendant of its builder ; and her successor is a 
Lady Clestram, the relict of some worthy laird, whose honouis did not prove strong enough 
to overcome the eclat of a Countess's name. 

The associations of the adjoining close connect us with a period much more recent, 
and with characters yielding in interest to none with whose memories the localities of 
Edinburgh are linked. Here, in the year 1786, the poet Burns, just snatched from exile 
by the generous intervention of the blind bard, Dr Blacklock, found his way, fresh from 

i Wood's Peerage, vol. i. p. 672. 2 Sir Thomas Hope's Diary, Eann. Club, p. 219. 

" Statuts for the Baillies of the Mure, and ordering the Pent. For ordouring of the said mure, and penill infectit 
thairupoun, for clengeing of houssis within the toun," &c. "That the Thesaurer causa mak for everie ane of the 
Baillies, Clengers, and Berears of the deid, ane gown of gray, with Sanct Androiss corss, quhite behind and before ; and 
to everie ane of tharae, ane staff, with ane quhite clayth on the end, quhairby thay may be knawin quhairevir thay pass. 
That thair be maid twa clois beris, with foure feet, colorit over with blak, and ane quhite cross, with ane bell to be 
hung in upoun the side of the said beir, quilk sail mak warning to the pepilL .... That with all deligence possible, 
oa sone as ony houss sail be iufectit, the haill houshald, with their gndds, be depescit towert the mure, the deid buriet, 
and with like diligence the houss clengit," &c. Council Register, 1568. Maitland, p. 31. 


the plough, to his friend Richmond, a writer's apprentice, and accepted the offer of a share 
of his room and bed, in the house of Mrs Carfrae, Baxter's Close, Lawnmarket. 1 

In the first stair to the left, on entering the close, and on the first floor of the house, 
is the poet's lodging. The tradition of his residence there has passed through very few 
hands ; the predecessor of the present tenant (a respectable widow, who has occupied the 
house for many years) learned it from Mrs Carfrae, and the poet's room is pointed out, 
with its window looking into Lady Stair's Close. The land is an ancient and very 
substantial building, with large and neatly moulded windows, retaining the marks of 
having been finished with stone mullions; in one tier in particular the windows are 
placed one above another, only separated at each story by a narrow lintel, so as to 
present the singular appearance of one long and narrow window from top to bottom 
of the lofty land. From this ancient dwelling, Burns issued to dine or sup with the 
magnates of the land, and, " when the company arose in the gilded and illuminated 
rooms, some of the fair guests perhaps 

Her Grace, 

Whose flatnbeanx flash against the morning skies, 
And gild our chamber ceilings as they pass, 

took the hesitating arm of the bard, went smiling to her coach, waved a graceful 
good-night with her jewelled hand, and, departing to her mansion, left him in the middle 
of the street, to grope his way through the dingy alleys of the ' gude town,' to his obscure 
lodging, with his share of a deal table, a sanded floor, and a chaff bed, at eighteenpence 
a week." 2 The poet's lodging, however, is no such dingy apartment as this description 
implies ; it is a large and well-proportioned room, neatly panelled with wood, according 
to a fashion by no means very antiquated then ; and if he was as well boarded as lodged, 
the hardy ploughman would find his independence exposed to no insurmountable tempta- 
tion, for all the grandeur of the old Scottish Duchesses, most of whose carriages were 
only sedan chairs, unless when they preferred the more economical conveyance of " a gude 
pair of pattens ! " 

Over the doorway of the old house immediately opposite to that of Burns', in 
Baxter's Close, there is a curious and evidently a very ancient lintel, a relic of some 
more stately mansion of the olden time. It bears a shield, now much defaced, surmounted 
by a crown, and above this a cross, with the figure of a man leaning over it, wearing a 
mitre. The initials, A. S. and E. I. , are placed on either side ; and above the whole, in 
antique Gothic letters, is the inscription, BLISSIT BE THE LORD IN 
HIS GIFTIS FOR NOV AND EVIR. We are inclined, from the appearance 
of this stone, to assign to it an earlier date than that of any other inscription in 
Edinburgh. The house into which it is built is evidently a much later erection, and 
no clue is furnished from its titles as to any previous building having occupied the site. 
It passed by inheritance, in the year 1746, into the possession of Martha White, only 
child of a wealthy burgess, whose gold won for her, some years later, the honours of 
Countess of Elgin and Kincardine, Governess to her Royal Highness Princess 
Charlotte of Wales, and the parentage of sundry honourable Lady Marthas, Lord 
Thomases, and the like. 

1 Allan Cunningham's Burns, vol. i. p. 115. a Ibid, vol. i. p. 131. 


An ancient land in Johnston's Close, on the south side of the Lawnmarket, imme- 
diately behind the West Bow, exhibits an unusually picturesque character in its gloomy 
interior, abounding with plain arched recesses and corbelled projections, scattered through- 
out in the most irregular and lawless fashion, and with narrow windows thrust into the 
oddest corners, or up even above the very cornice of the ceiling, in order to catch every 
wandering ray of borrowed light, amid the jostling of its pent-up neighbourhood. A view 
of the largest apartment is given in the Abbotsford edition of the Waverley Novels, under 
the name of " Hall of the Knights of St John, St John's Close, Canongate." We have 
failed in every attempt to obtain any clue to the early history of the building, which 
tradition has associated with this ancient order of soldier-priests. 

In the first and smaller court of Riddle's Close, immediately to the east of this, there 
is a lofty land with a projecting turret stair, bearing the date 1726, although a portion 
of the building to the south belongs to a much earlier period. This lofty tenement 
derives an interest from the fact of its having been the first residence of David Hume, as 
an independent householder in Edinburgh, adding another link to the associations with 
which the Lawnmarket abounds in connection with the great philosopher. He removed 
thither from Ninewells in 1751, from whence he writes, shortly after, to Adam Smith, 
" Direct to me in Riddal's Land, Lawnmarket." He thus facetiously describes to the great 
political economist, his own first attempts at domestic economy : " I have now at last 
being turned of forty, to my own honour, to that of learning, and to that of the present age, 
arrived at the dignity of being a householder. About seven months ago I got a house 
of my own, and completed a regular family, consisting of a head viz., myself, and two 
inferior members a maid and a cat. My sister has since joined me, and keeps me com- 
pany. With frugality, I can reach, I find, cleanliness, warmth, light, plenty, and con- 
tentment. What would you have more ? Independence ? I have it in a supreme degree. 
Honour ? That is not altogether wanting. Grace ? That will come in time. A wife ? 
That is none of the indispensable requisites of life. Books ? That is one of them, and I 
have more than I can use," &C. 1 The titles of this property include " an express servitude 
upon the tenement of land called Major Weir's Land, sometime belonging to James 
Riddle of Caister, in the county of Norfolk, in England ; that the same shall not be built 
higher than it is at present, lest it may anywise hurt or prejudice the said subject." 
From a comparison of dates, no doubt can exist that Hume commenced his History of 
England in Riddle's Land, though the bulk of it was written after his removal to Jack's 
Land, Canongate. 

An interesting mansion, of a much earlier date, but of equally lofty character, occupies 
the opposite side of this narrow court Entering the doorway under a corbelled angle, 
which adapts the projecting staircase to its narrow site, the visitor ascends a substantial 
stone stair to a broad landing on the second floor. Here the stair seems to terminate, 
but, on proceeding along the dark passage a little way, he will be surprised to stumble 
on another equally substantial, though somewhat narrower, rather puzzling him to con- 
jecture by what species of substructure it reaches a foundation on terra-firma. Without 
ascending this second stair, however, he will reach a large apartment, now occupied as 
a bookbinder's workshop, although retaining the proscenium and other requisites for 

1 Burtou'o Life of Hume, vol. i. p. 377. 


dramatic exhibitions, this having been used at one time as a public theatre. On passing 
through this, an inner room is reached, which exhibits an exceedingly interesting series 
of decorations of an earlier period, still remaining in tolerable preservation. The ceiling, 
which is richly ornamented in stucco, in the style that prevailed during the reign of 
Charles II., has a large circle in the centre, containing the royal crown, surrounded by 
alternate roses and thistles, and with the date 1678. The remainder of the ceiling is 
arranged in circular and polygonal compartments, with the Scottish Lion Rampant, and 
the Lion Statant Gardant, as in the English crest, alternately. The walls of this apart- 
ment are panelled in wood, and decorated in the very richest style of old Nome's 1 art, 
justifying his claim to rank among the landscape painters of Scotland. Every panel in 
the room, on shutters, walls and doors, contains a different landscape, some of them 
executed with great spirit ; even the keystone of an arched recess has a mask painted on 
it, and the effect of the whole is singularly beautiful, notwithstanding the injury that 
many of the paintings have sustained. 

This fine old mansion was originally the residence of Sir John Smith of Grotham, 
Provost of Edinburgh, who, in 1650, was one of the Commissioners chosen by the Com- 
mittee of State, to convey the loyal assurances of the nation to Charles II. at Breda, 
taking with them, at the same time, "The Covenant to be subscryvit by his Majestie." 4 
So recent, we may add, has been the desertion of this locality by the wealthier citizens of 
Edinburgh, that the late Professor Pillans, who long occupied the Chair of Humanity 
in the University of Edinburgh, was born and brought up within the same ancient 

The inner court, of which we furnish an engraving, is a neat, open, paved square, that 
still looks as though it might afford a fitting residence for the old courtiers of Holyrood. 
The building which faces the visitor on passing through the second large archway, has 
long been regarded with interest as the residence of Bailie Macmoran, one of the Magis- 
trates of Edinburgh in the reign of James VI., who was shot dead by one of the High 
School boys, during a barring-out or rebellion in the year 1595. The luckless youth who 
fired the rash shot was William Sinclair, 3 a son of the Chancellor of Caithness, and 
owing to this he was allowed to escape, his father's power and influence being too great 
to suffer the law to take its course.' Until the demolition of the Old High School in 1777, 
the boys used to point out, in one part of the building, what was called the Bailie's 
Window, being that through which the fatal shot had been fired. 

The Bailie's initials, I. M., are visible over either end of the pediment that surmounts 
the building, and the close is styled, in all the earlier titles of the property, Macmoran's 
Close. 4 After passing through several generations of the Macmorans, the house was 

1 AmoDg the List of Subscribers to the first edition of Ramsay's Poems, published in 1721, are the names of James 
Norrie and John Smibert (the friend of the poet), Painters. 
1 Nicol's Diary, p. 4. 

3 " William Sinclair, sone to William Sinclair, Chansler of Oames There wes ane number of 

sehollaris, being gentlemen's bairns, made ane inuitinie Pntlie the haill townesmen ran to the schooll, 

and tuik the said bairns and put yame in the Tolbuith, bot the haill bairns wer letten frie w'out hurte done to yame for 
ye same, wan ane short tyme yairafter." Bin-ell's Diary, p. 35. 

4 This close affords a very good example of the frequent changes of name, to which nearly the whole of them were 
subjected; the last occupant of note generally supplying his name to the residence of his successor. It is styled in 
the various titles, Macmoran's, Sir John Smith's, Roystou's, and Riddle's Close. 


acquired by Sir John Clerk of Pennycuik. By him it was sold to Sir Roderick Mackenzie 
of Preston Hall, appointed a senator of the College of Justice in 1702, who resided in the 
upper part of the house, at the same time that Sir James Mackenzie, Lord Royston, third 
son of the celebrated Earl of Cromarty, " one of the wittiest and most gifted men of his 
time," occupied the lower flat. Here, therefore, in all probability, his witty and eccentric 
daughter, Anne, was born and brought up. This lady, who married Sir William Dick of 
Prestonfield, carried her humorous pranks to an excess scarcely conceivable in our decorous 
days ; sallying out occasionally in search of adventures, like some of the maids of honour 
of Charles the Second's Court, 1 dressed in male attire, with her maid for a squire, and out- 
vying them in the extravagance of her proceedings. She seems indeed to have possessed 
more wit than discretion. Some of her poetical lampoons have been privately printed by 
C. K. Sharpe, Esq., in a rare, though well-known little volume, entitled, " A Ballad 
Book," and furnish curious specimens of the notions of delicacy at the period. 

Half a dozen more Provosts, Baronets, and Lords of Session, might be mentioned as 
the old occupants of this aristocratic quarter, but it will probably interest the reader more 
to learn that " The laigh tenement of land " was " sometime possessed by Jean Straiten, 
relict of the deceased Mr David Williamson, Minister of the G-ospel at the West Kirk," 
the well-known " Daintie Davie " of Scottish song, who, if tradition has not wronged him, 
had " worn out six wives," ere Jean Straiton, the seventh, contrived to survive him. He 
was one of the ejected ministers in 1665, and was restored, to the great joy of the parish- 
ioners, in 1689, although the Duke of Gordon, then under siege in the Castle, contrived 
to keep him out of his church for some months thereafter, and left the ancient fabric well- 
nigh reduced to ruins ere he surrendered the fortress. 2 His grave is still pointed out in 
the churchyard of St Cuthbert's, though there is no other inscription over it than his 
initials on the enclosing wall, to mark the spot where he is laid. 

The accompanying engraving renders a detailed description of the ancient court un- 
necessary. One feature, however, is worthy of special notice, viz., the antique carved oak 
shutters with which the lower half of one of the windows is closed, forming the finest 
specimen of this obsolete fashion now remaining in Edinburgh. 

To the east of this ancient quadrangle, there stood, till within these few years, the old 
town residence of the Buccleuch family, entering from Fisher's Close, demolished about 
1835, to make way for Victoria Terrace ; and immediately beyond this, in Brodie's 
Close, there still remains, in the Roman Eagle Hall, an exceedingly beautiful specimen 
of a large and highly decorated ancient saloon. This, however, falls to be treated of in 
another chapter ; but the same old close ere the besom of modern " improvement " 
swept over it with indiscriminate destruction contained various dwellings, pleasingly 
associated with the memories of some of Edinburgh's worthiest citizens in " The Olden 

On the east side of an open court, immediately beyond the Roman Eagle Hall, stood 
the ancient mansion of the Littles of Craigmirar, bearing below a large moulded and 
deeply recessed stone panel, WILLIAME 1570 LITIL, and on six shields, underneath 
as many crow-stepped gables, were the initials, V. L., boldly cut in various forms. 

William Little and his brother, Clement, may justly be considered, along with James 

1 Grammout Memoirs. - Hist, of West Kirk, pp. 76-84. 


Lawson, the colleague and successor of Knox, the true founders 1 of "' King James's Col- 
lege;" that royal pedant having in reality bestowed little more on the University than a 
charter and his name ! In 1580, Clement Little, advocate and commissary of Edinburgh, 
dedicated all his books, consisting of three hundred volumes, " for the beginning of ane 
library," the undoubted foundation of that magnificent collection which the College now 
possesses. This generous gift was bestowed during his lifetime, and the volumes " were 
put up in Mr James Lawson's galery, an part of the lodgings appoynted for the ministry, 
situated where the Parliament House is now found." 

James Lawson is well known for his uncompromising resistance to the schemes of 
King James for " re-establishing the state of bishops, flatt contrare the determination of 
the kirk." On the assembly of the Estates for this purpose in 1584, the King sent word 
to the Magistrates to seize and imprison any of the ministers who should venture to speak 
against the proceedings of the Parliament. James Lawson, however, with his colleague 
Walter Balcanquall, nothing daunted, not only preached against these proceedings from 
the pulpit, but the latter appeared, along with Mr Robert Pont, at the Cross, on the 
heralds proceeding to proclaim the act, and publicly protested, and took instruments 
in the name of the Kirk of Scotland against them, in so far as they prejudiced the 
former liberties of the kirk. " Arran made manie vowes that if Mr James Lawson's 
head were as great as an hay stacke, he would cause it leap from his hawse ! " Both he 
and his colleague were accordingly compelled to make a precipitate flight to England, 
where James Lawson died the same year ; 4 Walter Balcanquall, however, returned after- 
wards to his charge. Two years later, in 1586, we find him preaching before the King, 
" in the Great Kirk of Edinburgh," when " the King, after sermoun, rebooked Mr Walter 
publiclie from his seat in the loaft, and said he would prove there sould be bishops ! " 
&c. The royal arguments were not altogether thrown away, as it would seem ; the 
young Walter, son of the good man, having probably listened to this rebuke from " the 
minister's pew," afterwards became the well known Dr Balcanquall, Dean of Durham 
and Rochester, " special favorite to King James VI. and King Charles I. ; " to whom his 
relative, George Heriot, committed the entire regulation and oversight of his magnificent 
foundation. 5 

Clement Little also bore his share in the troubles of the period. On the 28th of April 
1572, proclamation was made at the Cross, " that Mr Robert Maitland, Dene of Aberdene, 
ane of the senatouris of the College of Justice, and Mr Clement Littill and Alexander 
Sim, advocattis, commissaris of Edinburgh, wes present in Leith, partakaris with the 
King, and rebellis to the Quene and her lieutennentis, thairfoir dischargit thame of thair 
offices, in that pairt for euver." 6 The proclamation would appear, however, to have led 
to no consequences of very permanent import. 

1 Bower's Hist, of the University, vol. i. p. 69. 2 Craufurd's Hist, p. 20. 8 Calderwood, vol. iv. p. 65. 

The following items from the will of Mr James Lawson, including a bequest to his colleague, are curious : 
" Imprimis, Yee sail deliver to the Frenche Kirk at London, three angells, to be distributed to their poore. Item, To 
Maistresse Vannoll, who keeped me in my sicknesse, an angell. Item, I will that my loving brother, Mr James Car- 
michaell, sail bate a rose noble iustantlie, and deliver it to my deere brother and loving friend Mr Walter Balcalquall, 
who hath beene so carefull of uie at all times, and cheefelie in time of thia rny present sicknesse ; to remaine with 
him as a perpetual! tokin and remembrance of my speciall love and thankfull heart towards him." Calderwood' s Hist., 
vol. iv. p. 206. 

J Di Steven's Memoir of G. Heriot, Appendix, p. 148. 6 Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 295. 


The son and namesake of the first William Little was Provost of Edinburgh in 1591, 
and helped to complete the work which his generous relatives had so well begun. On the 
election of a librarian, in the year 1647, we find the Magistrates showing a grateful sense 
of their obligations to these noble benefactors of the town, by appointing a descendant of 
theirs to the office. " Many favoured Mr Thomas Speir, son of an honest family, laureat 
at the Lambas proceeding, especially in regard of his grandfather, William Little, Provost, 
a most especial friend to the Colledge, and his great grand-uncle, Mr Clement Little, 
commissary of Edinburgh, who gave the first being to the library." 

The house, although occupied towards the close of last century as the Sheriff-clerk's 
chambers, remained an entailed property in the possession of Clement Little's descendants, 
until its demolition, and the principal carved stones are now preserved in the garden at 
Inch House. According to the traditions of last century, as Creech informs us in his 
" Fugitive Pieces," this interesting old mansion formed the residence of Cromwell during 
part of the time he resided in Edinburgh, 2 possibly while engaged in the siege of the 
Castle. This close, which bears, in the earliest titles of property within it, the name of its 
old residenter, Clement Little, appears in Edgar's map of 1742, as Lord Cullen's Close, so 
that here also resided that eminent lawyer and judge, Sir Francis Grant of Cullen, who, in 
1689, almost singly swayed the whole Scottish nation, when vacillating between the feudal 
vassallage due to the old line of kings, and their sense of violated rights by its latest 
representative ; and to whose influence was mainly owing the happy consistency of the 
Scottish Parliament in their declaration that King James had, by his own act, forfeited 
his throne, and left it vacant. He was raised to the bench in 1709, yet, though thus acute 
on other people's matters, Lord Cullen was so utterly regardless about his own, that his 
more shrewd and calculating spouse was accustomed to have all questions relating to his 
own property represented to him in the form of a " case ; " and having obtained his 
opinion as a lawyer, she took the advice for her direction, without troubling him with 
further information as to whom it concerned. His friend, Wodrow, has recorded in his 
history the closing scene of his life, a scene which we may associate with the ancient 
alley that bore his name : " Brother," said he to one who informed him of his mortal 
illness, " you have brought me the best news ever I heard ! " And the historian adds, in 
figurative depiction, " That day when he died was without a cloud ! " 

The transition is great from this single-minded and upright judge to the next 
occupant who gave his name to the close, which it still retains, that of William, or, as he 
was more generally called, Deacon Brodie. This notorious character, who was executed 
at the Old Tolbooth on the 1st of October 1788, resided in the same elegant mansion 
as had previously been the abode of such very different persons, a suitable enough 
dwelling for one who stood high in repute as a wealthy and substantial citizen, until the 
daring robbery of the Excise Office in Chessel's Court, Canongate, brought to light a long- 
continued system of housebreaking, scarcely ever surpassed in reckless audacity. 3 

The principal apartment in the house was lofty and elegant in its proportions. A 
large arched window gave light to it from thb west, and a painting on the panelling, 

1 Craufnrd's Hist., p. 159. ' Edinburgh Fugitive Pieces, p. 64. 

3 For a particular account of this worthy, see Kay's Portraits, vol. i. p. 256. 


representing the Adoration of the Wise Men, was said to be the work of Alexander 


We have endeavoured thus far to conduct the reader through this portion of the 
ancient capital, pointing out the various associations calculated to excite sympathy or 
interest in connection with its time-honoured scenes. But all other objects of attraction 
to the local historian, within this district, must yield before those of the Old Bank Close, 
the site of which was very nearly that of the present paving of Melbourne Place. The 
antique mansion, that formed the chief building in this close, excited very great and 
general attention from the time that it was exposed to view in opening up the approach 
to George IV. 's Bridge, until its demolition in 1834, to make way for the central 
buildings of Melbourne Place, that now occupy its site. It stood immediately to the east 
of William Little's Land, already described, in Brodie's Close, from which it was only 
partially separated by a very narrow gutter that ran between the two houses, leaving them 
united by a mutual wall at the north end. 

This ancient building was curiously connected with a succession of eminent and 

influential men, and with important historical events 
of various eras, from the date of its erection until a 
comparatively recent period. " Gourlay's House," 
for so it continued to be called nearly to the last, 
was erected in 1569, as appeared from the date on it, 
by Robert Gourlay, burgess, on the site, and, partly 
at least, with the materials of an old religious house. 
Little further is known of its builder than the fact 
that he had been a wealthy and influential citizen, 
who enjoyed the favour of royalty, and made the 
most of it too, notwithstanding the pious averment sculptured over his door, LORD 
IN THE IS AL MY TRAIST. 1 This appears no less from numerous grants of 
privileges and protections of rights, among the writs and evidents of the property, 
attested by King James's own signature, than by the very obvious jealousy with which 
his favour at Court was regarded by his fellow-citizens. 

One of these royal mandates, granted by the King at Dumfries, 21st June 1588, sets 
forth, " Lyke as ye said Robert Gourlay and Helen Cruik, his spouse, has raisit ane new 
biggin and wark upon ye waste and ground of their lands and houses foresaid, whereiu 
they are quarelled and troubled for enlarging and outputing of ye east gavill and dyke of 
their said new wark, on with ye bounds of ye auld bigging fouudit and edified thereupon, 
of design, and presumed to have diminished and narrowit ye passage of ye foresaid transe 
callit Mauchains Close, &c., 2 We, therefor, give and grant special liberty 

1 On the demolition of the building, the words " Lord," which extended beyond the lintel of the door, were found 
to be carved on oak, and so ingeniously let into the wall that this had escaped observation. One could almost fancy that 
the subservient courtier had found his abbreviated motto liable to a more personal construction than was quite agreeable. 

2 In the earlier part of the same writ, the property is styled " ye lands of umq 1 " Alexander Mauthune, and now of ye 
said Robert Gourlay." We learn from Maitland, that in the year 1511, " the Town Council twoards inlarging the said 
Church of St Giles, bought of Alexander Mauckanes, four lauds or tenements, in the Booth-raw," or Luckeuboothg. 
Maitland's Hist., p. 180. This can scarcely be doubted to be the same individual. 

VIGNETTE Carved Stone from Old Bank Close, in the possession of C. K. Sharpe, Esq. 


to accomplish the foresaid bigging," &c. This royal mandate not seeming to have pro- 
duced the ready acquiescence that was doubtless anticipated, King James, in the following 
August, assumes the imperative mode, " Whereas the said Robert Gourlay is quarelled 
and troubled for diminishing of ye breid and largeness of ye passage thereof, by use and 
wont ; albeit ye said vennel be na common nor free passage, lyke as ye same hath not been 
this long time bygane, being only ane stay hill besouth ye said new wark, and nevir calsayit 
nor usit as ane oppen and comoun vennall, lyke as ua manner of persones has now, nor 
can justlie plead ony richt or entrie to ye said veunal, q lk be all lawis inviolable observit 
in tymes bygane has pertainit, and aucht to pertene to US ; " and to make sure of the 
matter this time, his Majesty closes by authorising the building of a dyke across the close, 
" notwithstanding that ye said transe and venuall have been at ony time of before, repute 
or halden ane comouu and free passage I " 

The result of this mandate of royalty would appear to have been the erection of the house 
at the foot of the close, the only other building that had an entrance by it, apparently 
as the dwelling for his son, John Gourlay. This ancient edifice possessed a national interest 
as having been the place where the earliest banking institution in Scotland was established. 
The Bank of Scotland, or, as it was more generally styled by our ancestors, the Old Bank, 
continued to carry on all its business there, within the narrow alley that bore its name, 
until the completion of the extensive erection in Bank Street, whither it removed in 1805. 
The house bore the date 1588, the same year as that of the royal mandates authorising its 
erection, and on an upright stone panel, on its north front, a device was sculptured repre- 
senting several stalks of wheat growing out of bones, with the motto, SPES ALTERA 
VIT^E. The same ingenious emblem of the resurrection may still be seen on the fine 
old range of buildings opposite the Canongate Tolbooth. 

The only notice of Robert Gourlay we have been able to discover occurs in Calder- 
wood's History, and is worth extracting, for the illustration it affords of the extensive 
jurisdiction the kirk was disposed to assume to itself in his day : " About this time, 
Robert Gourlay, an elder of the Kirk of Edinburgh, was ordeanned to mak his publict 
repentance in the kirk upon Friday, the 28th May [1574], for transporting wheate out of 
the countrie." The Regent, however, interfered, and interposed his licence as sufficient 
security against the threatened discipline of the church. 1 

John Gourlay is styled in some of his titles " customar," that is, one who " taks taxa- 
tiounis, custumis, or dewteis ; " 2 and his father also, in all probability, occupied a 
situation of some importance in the royal household ; nor is it to be supposed it was 
altogether " out of mere love and gude will " that King James was so ready to secure 
to him the absolute control over the close wherein he built his house. It was a building 
of peculiar strength and massiveness, and singularly intricate in its arrangements, even 
for that period. Distinct and substantial stone stairs led from nearly the same point 
to separate parts of the mansion ; and on its demolition, a most ingeniously contrived 
secret chamber was discovered, between the ceilinp- of the first and the floor of the second 
story, in which were several chests full of old deeds and other papers. 8 A carved stone, 
at the side of the highest entrance in the close, bore a shield with a martlet on it, 

1 Calderwood, vol. iii. p. 328. " Vide Jamieson's Scottish Dictionary. 

8 Now in the Chambers of the Improvements Commission. 


surmounted by the initials R. G. ; the arrangement of the interior seemed to have 
been designed with a view to its occasional subdivision for the separate lodgment of 
illustrious occupants. A projecting turret, which appears in our engraving, enclosed 
a spiral stone stair, each of the steps of which was curiously hollowed in front into the 
segment of a circle. This stair afforded access to a small room in the highest floor of 
the house, which tradition, as well as the appearance of the apartment, pointed out as 
the place of durance of the various noble captives that found a prison within its old walls. 
An adjoining closet was also shown, where the lockman was said to have slept, while in 
waiting to do his last office on such of them as spent there the closing hours of life. 
Popular rumour even sought to add to the number of these associations, by assigning the 
former apartment as that in which the Earl of Argyle spent the last night before his 
execution ; where one of his unprincipled and lawless judges was struck with astonish- 
ment and remorse on finding his victim in a sweet and tranquil slumber only a few hours 
before passing to the scaffold. 

At the period of Argyle's execution, however, A.D. 1685, this private stronghold of 
James VI. had passed out of the hands of subservient customars, into the possession of 
the descendants of Sir Thomas Hope, one of the most resolute opponents of the aggres- 
sions of royalty, who were little likely to suffer their dwelling to be converted into the 
state prison of the bigoted James VII. ; while it is clearly stated by Wodrow, that the 
unfortunate Argyle was brought directly from the Castle to the Laigh Council Room, 
thence to be conducted to execution. 

Very soon after the erection of Gourlay's house, it became the residence of Sir William 
Durie, governor of Berwick, and commander of the English auxiliaries, during the memor- 
able siege of the Castle in 1573; and thither, on its surrender, after the courageous 
defence, of which a brief account has already been given, 1 the gallant Sir William 
Kirkaldy of Grange, and his brother, with the Lord Hume, Lethington, Pittadrow, the 
Countess of Argyle, the Lady Lethington, and the Lady Grange, were conducted to await 
the bloody revenge of the Regent Morton, and the heartlessness of Queen Elizabeth, that 
consigned Sir William Kirkaldy and his brother to the ignominious death of felons. 2 

David Moyses, who himself held an office in the household of James VI., informs us 
that on the 27th of May 1581, the very year succeeding that of the royal mandates in 
favour of Gourlay, the Earls of Arran and Montrose passed from Edinburgh with a body 
of armed men, to bring the Earl of Morton from Dumbarton Castle, where he was in ward, 
to take his trial at Edinburgh ; and " upon the 29th of May, the said Earl was transported 
to Edinburgh, and lodged in Robert Gourlay's house, and there keeped by the waged men." 8 
The Earl was held there in strict durance, until the 1st of June, and denied all intercourse 
with his friends. On that day the citizens of the capital were mustered in arms on the 

1 Ante, p. 84. 

8 " The noblemen past to the said lieutennentis lugeing, callit Gourlayes logeing, thair to remayne quhill farder 
aduertiseinent come fra the Quene of Ingland. "Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 333. Calderwood, who furnishes the list of 
noble captives, mentions the Laird of Grange as brought with others from the Abbey to the Cross for execution. Sir 
William Durie, we may presume, declined to be his gaoler, after his death was determined on. "When he saw the 
scaffold prepared at the Croce, the day faire, and the sunne shyning cleere, his countenance was changed," &c. The 
whole narrative is curious and minute, though too long for inserting here. Calderwood, vol. iii. p. 284. 

* Moyses' Memoirs, p. 53. 


High Street, two bands of men of war were placed about the Cross, and two above the 
Tolbooth. " The first baud waited upou the convoy of the Erie of Morton, from the 
loodgiug to the Tolbuith." 1 The crime for which he was convicted, was a share in the 
murder of Darnley, but eighteen other heads of indictment had been drawn up against 
him. About six in the evening, he was conveyed back to his lodging in the Old Bank 
Close. He supped cheerfully, and on retiring to rest, slept till three in the morning, 
when he rose and wrote for some hours, and again returned to his couch. In the 
morning, he sent the letters he had written, by some of the ministers, to the King, but 
he refused to look at them or listen to their contents, or indeed do anything, " but 
ranged up and doun the floore of his chamber, clanking with his finger and his thowme." 
The Regent had shown little mercy as a ruler, and he had none to hope for from King 
James. On that same day, he was beheaded at the Cross, by the Maiden, with all the 
bloody formalities of a traitor's death, and his head exposed on the highest point of the 
Tolbooth. 2 

In the following year, the same substantial mansion, alternately prison and palace, 3 
was assigned as a residence for Monsieur de la Motte Fenelon, the French ambassador, 
who came professedly to mediate between the King and his nobles, and to seek a renewal 
of the ancient league of amity with France. " He was lodged in Gourlay's house, near 
the Tolbooth, and had an audience of His Majesty upon the 9th of the said month " of 
January. He remained till the 10th of February, when " having received a satisfactory 
answer, with a great banquet, in Archibald Stewart's lodgings, in Edinburgh, he took 
journey homeward." 4 The banquet was given at the King's request, to the great 
indignation of the clergy, who had watched with much jealousy "the traffique of Papists," 

* Calderwood, vol. iii. p. 657. 

5 Ante, p. 86. " He was executed about foure houres after noone, upon Fryday, the secund of June. Phairnihirst 
stood in a shott over against the scaffold, with his large ruffes, delyting in this spectacle. The Lord Seton and his two 
eonnes stood in a staire, south-east from the Croce. Hia bodie lay upon the scaffold till eight houres at even, and ther- 
after was carried to the Neather Tolbuith, where it was watched. Hia head was sett upon a prick, on the highst atone 
of the gavell of the Tolbuith, toward the publict street." Calderwood, vol. iii. p. 575. 

The common story told by Dr Jamieaon and other writers, about the Maiden, is entirely apocryphal. It is said that 
the Regent Morton borrowed the idea from some foreign country. Halifax, in Yorkshire, has been oftenest assigned 
as the place of its invention ; and the generally received tradition is, that the Regent was himself the first who suffered 
by it. On the 3d of April 1566, the Maiden was used at the execution of Thomas Scot, an accomplice in the murder 
of Rizzio,, when an entry appears in the Town records of 7s. paid for conveying it from Blackfriars to the Cross. The 
next execution mentioned, is that of Henry Yair, on the 10th of August, when Andrew Goffersown, smyth, who, at 
the former date, received 5s. for grinding of y" Maiden, obtains a similar fee for grinding of y' Widow. We are 
inclined to infer that the same instrument is spoken of in both cases, and that the fanciful epithet which the old 
Scottish guillotine still retains, was given to it on the former occasion, in allusion to its then unfleshed and maiden axe, 
vide p. 86. It is at any rate obvious from this, that the Maiden was in use before the Earl of Morton was appointed 

8 Maitland remarks (p. 181), " The Old Tolbooth, in the Bank Close, in the Landmarket, which was rebuilt in the 
year 1562, is still standing, on the western side of the said close, with the windows strongly stauchelled ; the small 
dimensions thereof occasioned its being laid aside." We shall show presently the very different character of the original 
building, although there still remains the intermediate possessor, Alexander Mauchane, already mentioned, unless, as is 
most probable, he occupied the ancient erection as his dwelling. The allusions already quoted, where the Tolbooth is 
mentioned along with this building, seem sufficient to prove that that name was never applied to it, although it 
occasionally shared with the Tolbooth the offices of a prison, a purpose that in reality properly belonged to neither. 
Moyses styles it Gourlay's House, near the Tolboolh, a true description of it as it was within a hundred yards of the 
Old Tolbooth or " Heart of Midlothian." 

4 Moyses' Memoirs, pp. 73-77. Archibald Stewart appears to have been a substantial citizen, who was Provost of 
the city in the year 1578. 


and especially of" one bearing the manifest badge of Antichrist," viz., his badge as a 
knight of the order of Saint Esprit! They accordingly intimated to their congregations 
a day of fasting and prayer on the occasion, which was duly observed, while the French- 
man was having his farewell repast. 

In the year 1588, the King sent Sir James Stewart, brother 
of the Earl of Arran, to besiege Lord Maxwell, in the Castle 
of Lochmaben, where he was believed to have collected a force 
in readiness to co-operate with an expected army from Spain, 
against the government. The Castle was rendered on the 
faith of safety promised to the garrison by Sir William 
Stewart ; but the King, who had remained at a prudent dis- 
tance from danger, now made his appearance, and with charac- 
teristic perfidy, hanged the most of them before the Castle 
gate. He returned to Edinburgh thereafter, bringing with 
him the Lord Maxwell, " who was warded in Robert Gour- 
laye's hous, and committed to the custodie of Sir William 
Stewart." Scarcely a week after this, Sir William quarrelled 
with the Earl of Bothwell, in the royal presence, where each 
gave the other the lie, in language sufficiently characteristic 

of the rudeness of manners then prevailing at the Court of Holyrood. They met 
a few days afterwards on the High Street, each surrounded by his retainers, when a 
battle immediately ensued. Sir William was driven down the street by the superior 
numbers of his opponents, and at length retreated into Blackfriars' Wynd. 1 There he 
stabbed one of his assailants who was pressing most closely on him, but being unable to 
recover his sword, he was thrust through the body by Bothwell, and so perished in the 
aifray, an occurrence that excited little notice at that turbulent period, either from 
the citizens or the Court, and seems to have involved its perpetrator in no retributive 

The next occupant of note was Colonel Sempill, a cadet of the ancient family of that 
name, and an active agent of the Catholic party, who " came to this countrie, with the 
Spanish gold to the Popish Lords." The Earl of Huntly, who had shown himself favour- 
able to the Spanish emissary, was commanded, under pain of treason, to apprehend him ; 
and he also was accordingly warded in Robert Gourlay's house, seemingly at the same time 
with Lord Maxwell. In this case, it proved an insecure prison, for he " soone after brake 
waird and escaped, and that by Huntlie's moyen and assistance ; " " and on the 20th of May of 
the following year, Huntly was himself a prisoner, "wairded in Robert Gourlay's house," 3 
from whence he was soon afterwards transferred to Borthwick Castle. But not only was 
this ancient civic mansion the abode or prison of a succession of eminent men, during the 
troubled years of James the Sixth's residence in Scotland ; we find that the King himself, 
in 1593, took refuge in the same substantial retrea.t, during one of those daring insurrections 
of the Earl of Bothwell, that so often put his Majesty's courage to sore trial, and drove 
him to seek the protection of the burgher force of Edinburgh. " The 3d of Apryle, the 

1 Birrel's Diary, p. 24. " Calderwood, vol. iv. pp. 678-681. 3 Ibid, vol. v. p. 55. 

VIONETTE Carved Stone from Old Bank Close, in the collection of A. G. Ellis, Esq. 



King being ludgit in Robert Gourlay's Judging, he came to the sermone, and ther, in pre- 
sence of the haill peipill, he proinest to reuenge God's cause, to banische all the papists, 
and y r requystet the haill peiple to gang with him against Boduell, quha wes in Leith for 
the tyme." l His Majesty's pathetic exhortation, and promises of pious zeal in the cause 
of the kirk, soon mustered a force of civic volunteers, who proceeded to Leith, where 
Both well lay with a body of five hundred horse. The King gallantly headed his recruits so 
long as the Earl retreated before them, first " to the Halkhill, besyde Lesteric," 2 and then 
away through Duddingston ; but no sooner did Bothwell turn his horsemen to face them, 
than his Majesty showed " the better part of valour " by a precipitate retreat, and never 
drew bridle, we may presume, till he found himself once more safely sheltered within the 
pend of Gourlay's Close, Holyrood Abbey being much too near the recent quarters of 
the rebellious Earl to be ventured on for the royal abode. 

From the various incidents adduced, it appears evident that Robert Gourlay was not 
only a subservient courtier, but also that he was so far dependent on the King whatever 
may have been the nature of his office as to place his house at his Majesty's free disposal, 
whenever it suited his convenience. 3 It is well known that King James was very con- 
descending in his favours to his loyal citizens of Edinburgh, making no scruple, when the 
larder of Holyrood grew lean, and the privy purse was exhausted, to give up housekeeping 
for a time, and honour one or other of the substantial burghers of his capital with a visit of 
himself and household ; or when the straitened mansions within the closes of old Edin- 
burgh proved insufficient singly to accommodate the hungry train of courtiers, he would 
very considerately distribute his favours through the whole length of the close ! In 
January 1591, for example, as we learn from Moysie, 4 when " the King and Queen's 
Majesties lodged themselves in Nicol Edward's house, in Niddry's Wynd," the Chan- 
cellor withdrew to Alexander Clark's house, at the same wynd head ; and, it is added, "on 
the 7th of February, the Earl of Huntly, with his friends, to the number of five or six 
score horse, passed from his Majesty's said house in Edinburgh, intending to pass to a 
horse race in Leith." We are not quite sure if we are to understand that the whole six score 
were actually lodgers in the wynd, but it is quite obvious, at least, that his Majesty found 
his quarters there much too comfortable to be likely to quit " his said house " in a hurry. 
The free use, however, which was made of Gourlay's mansion, lacked such royal condescen- 
sion to sweeten the sacrifice ; it was only when its massive walls gave greater promise of 
safety in the time of danger that the King made it his abode ; and we may presume its 
owner to have enjoyed some more substantial benefits in return for such varied encroach- 
ments on his housekeeping. 

In the year 1637, David Gourlay, -the grandson of the builder, sold this ancient fabric 
to Sir Thomas Hope of Craighall, the courageous and intrepid adviser of the recusant clergy 
in 1606, when the politic lawyers of older standing declined risking King James's displea- 
sure by appearing in their behalf. In 1626 he was created King's Advocate by Charles 

1 Bin-ell's Diary, p. 35>. Restalrig. 

8 We are indebted to Mr. R. Chambers for the following interesting note on this subject : " In the Second Book of 
Charters in the Canongate Council House, I find Adam, Bishop of Orkney, giving to Robert Gourlay, messenger, our 
familiar servitor,' the office of messenger, or officer-at-arms, to the Abbey, with a salary of forty pounds and other per- 

4 Moysie's Memoirs, p. 182. Ante, p. 89. 



I., who hoped thereby to gain him over from the Presbyterians. In this, however, the 
King was completely disappointed. At the period of his acquiring Gourlay's house, he was 
actively engaged in organising the national resistance of the liturgy, and in framing the 
Covenant, which was subscribed in the following year by nearly the whole of Scotland. 
He appears, from his Diary, 1 to have taken a minute and affectionate interest in all that 
concerned the members of his numerous family, long after they had left the parental roof. 
The ancient mansion seems to have been purchased for his son, Sir Thomas, who, with his 
elder brother, Sir John Hope of Craighall, both sat on the bench while their father was 
Lord Advocate ; and it being judged by the Court of Session unbecoming that a father 
should plead uncovered before his children, the privilege of wearing his hat while pleading 
was granted to him, and we believe still belongs to his successors in the office of King's 
Advocate, though fallen into disuse. 

From Sir Thomas Hope the upper part of the old mansion was purchased by Hugh 
Blair, merchant in Edinburgh, and grandfather, we believe, of the eminent divine that bore 
his name. From him it came into the possession of Lord Aberuchill, a Senator of the 
College of Justice ; and various other persons of rank and note in their day occupied the 
ancient dwelling ere it passed to the plebeian tenantry of modern times. 

The most interesting of its latter occupants was the celebrated lawyer Sir George Lock- 
hart, the great rival of Sir George Mackenzie, appointed, in the year 1658, Advocate to 
the Protector during life, and nominated Lord President of the Court of Session in 1685. 
He continued at the head of the Court till the Revolution, and would undoubtedly have 
been reappointed to the office, had he not fallen a victim to private revenge. Chiesly of 
Dairy, an unsuccessful litigant, exasperated, as it appeared, by a decree of the Lord Pre- 
sident awarding an aliment of 1700 merks, or 93 sterling, out of his estate, in favour of 
his wife and ten children, conceived the most deadly hatred against him, and openly declared 
his resolution to be revenged. On Sir James Stewart, advocate, seeking to divert him from 
the purpose he avowed, he fiercely replied, " Let God and me alone ; we have many things 
to reckon betwixt us, and we will reckon this too ! " The Lord President was warned of 
Chiesly's threats, but unfortunately despised them. The assassin loaded his pistols on the 
morning of Easter Sunday, the 31st March 1689; he went to the New Kirk, as the 
choir of St Giles's Church was then styled, and having dogged the President home from 
the church, he shot him in the back as he was entering the Old Bank Close, where he 
resided. Lady Lockhart, the aunt of the witty Duke of Wharton, was lying ill in bed. 
Alarmed at the report of the pistol, she sprang up, and on learning of her husband's 
murder rushed out into the close in her night-dress, and assisted in raising him from the 
ground. The assassin, on being told that his victim had expired immediately on being 
carried into the house, coolly replied, " He was not used to do things by halves." 

The murderer being taken red-hand, and the crime having been committed within the city, 
he was brought to trial on the following day before Sir Magnus Prince, the Lord Provost, 
as High Sheriff of the city. Although he made no attempt to deny the crime, he was put 

1 The following entry appears in his Diary, " 7 January 1641, Payit to David Gourlay, J merks, quhilk he affirtniti 
to be awin to him of the pryce off his tenement sauld to my son Sir Thomas, and this gevin be him to his sone Thomas 
Gourlay quhen he was going furth off the country." On 25th December 1644, is the brief entry, " Good David 
Gourlay departit at his hous in Prestounpannis, about 8 hours of nycht." Hope's Diary, Bauu. Club, pp. 123, 



to the torture, by special authority of the Estates, to discover if he had any accomplices. 1 
The very next day he was dragged on a hurdle to the Cross,. his right hand struck off 
while alive, and then hanged, with the pistol about his neck, after which his body was 
hung in chains on the Gallow-lee, between Leith and Edinburgh, and his hand affixed to 
the West Port. 2 The Castle being then under siege, and held out by the Duke of 
Gordon on behalf of King James, a parley was beat by the besiegers, for a cessation of 
hostilities during the interment of the President in the Greyfriars' Churchyard, which 
was readily granted. 3 

The house of Dairy belonged 
latterly to William Kirkpatrick, 
Esq., of Allisland, whose grandson 
related to us that the servants were 
afraid to venture alone into the 
back kitchen, and would not, on 
any consideration, approach it after 
dark, under the belief that Chiesly's 
bones had been carried off by his 

relatives and buried there, and that the ghost of the murderer haunted the spot. Oil 
his grandfather repairing the garden wall at a later period, an old stone seat, which stood 
in a recess in the wall, had to be removed, and underneath was found a skeleton, entire, 
except the bones of the right hand ; without doubt the remains of the assassin, that had 
been secretly brought thither from the Gallow-lee. 

Great exertions were used with the Improvements' Commissioners to induce them to 
preserve the interesting fabric associated with such various characters and national events, 
but in vain ; civic rulers are ever the slowest to appreciate such motives. The demolition 
of this, as well as of several surrounding buildings, brought to light numerous fragments 
of an earlier erection, evidently of an ecclesiastical character, several of which we have had 
engraved. These were used simply as building materials, the carved work being built into 
the wall, and the stones squared on the side exposed. Numerous fragments of shafts, 
mullions, and the like, also occurred among the ruins ; and an inspection of the earliest 
writs and evidents of the property, serve to show that a building of considerable extent 
had existed here prior to the Information, in connection with Cambuskenueth Abbey. 
It is styled, in the earliest of these, " all and haill these lands, houses, and stables, biggit 
and waste, lying within ye tenement sometime pertaining to the Comendator and Convent 
of Cambuskenneth," and included both William Little's mansion to the west, and a por- 
tion, at least, of the buildings in Gosford's Close, to the east. But the most interesting 
and conclusive evidence on this subject is derived from these sculptured fragments rescued 
from the ruins of the more recent building ; and judging from them, and from the plainer 

1 It is a curious fact connected with the trial, that the Estates of Parliament passed a special act empowering hia 
judges to examine him by the torture, although, only ten days after this trial, they declared King James to have 
jorfaulted, the Crown, by illegal assumption and exercise of power, and " that the use of torture, without evidence, is 
contrary to law. " 

2 Crim. Registers of Edinburgh. Arnot's Crim. Trials, pp. 168-173. 
8 Siege of the Castle of Edinburgh, 1689, Bann. Club, p. 47. 

VIGNETTE. Carved stone from Old Bank Close, in the collection of A. G. Ellis, Esq. 


relics that abounded in the latter fabric, the student of mediaaval architecture will pro- 
nounce, no less confidently, that here there once stood a Gothic structure of an ecclesias- 
tical character, and finished in a highly ornate style, than does the geologist, from the 
fossil vertebra or pelvis, construct again the mastodon or plesiosaurus of pre-adamite eras. 
In the three fragments of carved work we have engraved, 1 we have the exterior dripstone 
and corbel of a pointed window ; a highly decorated portion of a deeply splayed string 
course (not improbably from an oriel window), and a corbel, from which we may infer the 
ribs of a groined roof to have sprung, hand specimens, as it were, of both the exterior 
and interior of the fabric. 

The building was, in all likelihood, the town mansion of the abbot, with a beautiful 
chapel attached to it, and may serve to remind us how little idea we can form of the 
beauty of the Scottish capital before the Reformation, adorned as it was with so many 
churches and conventual buildings, the very sites of which are now unknown. Over the 
doorway of an ancient stone land in Gosford's Close, which stood immediately to the east 
of the Old Bank Close, there existed a curious sculptured lintel, containing a representation 
of the Crucifixion, and which may, with every probability, be regarded as another relic of 
the abbot's house that once occupied its site. We furnish a view of this building as it 
latterly existed, with numerous additions of various dates and styles that tended to 
increase the picturesqueness of the whole. In the underground story of the house there was 
a strongly arched cellar, in the centre of the floor of which a concealed trap-door was 
discovered, admitting to another still lower down, cut out of the solid rock. Some vague 
traditions were reported as to its having been a place of torture ; there is much greater 
probability that it was constructed by smugglers as a convenient receptacle for concealing 
their goods, at a period when the North Loch afforded ready facilities for getting wines 
and other forbidden articles within the gates, and enabled " an honest man to fetch sae 
muckle as a bit anker o' brandy frae Leith to the Lawnmarket, without being rubbit o' 
the very gudes he 'd bought and paid for by an host of idle English gangers ! " 2 
Directly over the trap-door an iron ring was fastened into the arch of the upper cellar, 
apparently for the purpose of letting down weighty articles into the vault below. This 
vault, we presume, still remains beneath the centre of the roadway leading to George IV. 
Bridge. On the first floor of this mansion, as Chambers informs us, the last Earl of 
Loudon, together with his daughter, the present Marchioness of Hastings, used to lodge 
during their occasional visits to town. In 1794 the Hall and Museum of the Society of 
Antiquaries 3 were at the bottom of this close, where the accommodations were both ample 
and elegant, but in an alley so narrow, that it was soon after deserted, owing to the 
impossibility of reaching the entrance in a sedan chair, the usual fashionable conveyance 
at that period. This did not, however, prevent their being succeeded by Dr Farquharson, 
an eminent physician ; indeed, the whole neighbourhood was the favourite resort of the 
most fashionable and distinguished among the resident citizens, and a perfect nest of 
advocates and lords of session. On the third floor of the front land, Lady Catherine and 
Lady Ann Hay, daughters of the Marquis of Tweeddale, resided; and so late as 1773 it 
was possessed, if not occupied, by their brother, George, Marquis of Tweeddale. 

1 Vide, pp. 172, 176, 179. Heart of Midlothian, Plumdamaa loquitur. 

3 Kincaid's Traveller's Companion, 1794. 


On the west side of the County Hall there still exists a part of the " transs " of Libber- 
ton's Wynd, but all other remains have been swept away by the same " improvement 
mania," whose work we have already recorded in the neighbouring closes. This wynd 
formed, at one period, one of the principal thoroughfares for pedestrians from the fashion- 
able district of the Cowgate to the " High Town." Its features did not greatly differ from 
those of many other of the old closes, with its substantial stone mansions eked out here 
and there by irregular timber projections, until the narrow stripe of sky overhead had 
well-nigh been blotted out- by their overhanging gables. 1 The most interesting feature 
in the wynd was Johnie Bowie's Tavern, already alluded to, the Mermaid Tavern of 
Edinburgh during the last century, whither the chief wits and men of letters were wout 
to resort, in accordance with the habits of society at that period. Here Ferguson the 
poet, David Herd, one of the earliest collectors of Scottish songs, " antiquarian Paton," 
with others of greater note in their own day than now, lords of session, and leading 
advocates, inhabitants of the neighbouring fashionable district, were wont to congregate. 
Martin, a celebrated portrait painter of the last century, instituted a club here, which was 
quaintly named after the host, Doway College, and thither his more celebrated pupil, Sir 
Henry Raeburn, often accompanied him in his younger days. But, above all, this was the 
favourite resort of Robert Burns, where he spent many jovial hours with Willie Nicol, and 
Allan Masterton, the " blithe hearts " of his most popular song, and with his city 
friends of all degrees, during his first visit to Edinburgh. On the death of John Dowie 
(a sober and respected city, who amassed a considerable fortune, and left his only son a 
Major in the army), the old place of entertainment acquired still greater note under the 
name of Burns's Tavern. The narrow room was visited by strangers as the scene of the 
poet's most frequent resort; and at the period of its demolition in 1834, it had taken a 
prominent place among the lions of the Old Town. The house had nothing remarkable 
about it as a building. It bore the date of its erection, 1728, and in the ancient titles, 
belonging to a previous building, it is described as bounded on the south by " the King's 
auld wall." This ancient thoroughfare appears to have retained its original designation, 
while closes immediately adjoining were receiving new names with accommodating facility on 
every change of occupants. Libberton's Wynd is mentioned in a charter granted by James 
III. in the year 1477 ; and in later years its name occurred in nearly every capital 
sentence of the criminal court, the last permanent place ofi public execution, after the 
demolition of the Old Tolbooth, having been at the head of the wynd. The victims of the 
law's highest penalty, within the brief period alluded to, offer few attractions to the anti- 
quarian memorialist, unless the pre-eminent infamy of the " West Port murderers," Burke 
and Hare, the former of whom was executed on this spot be regarded as establishing 
their claim to rank among the celebrated characters of Edinburgh. The sockets of " the 
fatal tree " were removed, along with objects of greater interest and value, in completing 
the approach to the new bridge. 

Carthrae's, Forrester's, and Beth's Wynds, all once stood between Libberton's Wynd 
and St Giles's Church, but every relic of them had been swept away years before the latter 
work of destruction was projected. Forrester's Wynd was evidently a place of note in 
earlier times, and frequent allusions to it occur in some of the older diaries ; e.g., " Vpoun 

1 A very accurate and characteristic view of thi3 wynd, from the Cowgate, is given among Geikie's Etchings. 


the nynt day of Aprilc, the zeir of God 1566 zeris, Johne Sinclare, be the mercie of God 
bischope of Brechin and Dean of Bestalrig, deceissit in James Mosmanis hous in Frosteris 
Wynd, ane honest and cunniug letterit man, and president of the College of Justice 
the tyme of his deceiss, &c." ' Another diarist records, in describing the firing of the 
town by the garrison of the Castle, under Sir William Kirkaldy, in 1572, " the fyre 
happit fra hous to hous throw the maisterie of ane grit wynd, and come eist the gait 
to Bess Wynd at the kirk end of Sauct Geill," 2 in consequence of which " ther wes 
ane proclamatiouu maid, that all thak houssis suld be tirrit, 8 and all hedder staki* 
to be trausportit at thair awine bounds and brunt ; and ilk man in Edinburgh to haue 
his lumes full of watter in the nycht, wilder the pane of deid ; " a very graphic picture of 
the High Street in the sixteenth century, with the majority of the buildings on either 
side covered with thatch, and the main street encumbered by piles of heather and other 
fuel accumulated before each door, for the use of the inhabitants ; and, from amid these, 
we may add the stately ecclesiastical edifices of the period, and the substantial mansions 
of the nobility, towering with all the more imposing effect, in contrast to their homely 

The venerable alley called Bess or Beth's Wynd, after suffering greatly from the slow 
dilapidation of time, was nearly destroyed by successive fires in the years 1786 and 1788. 
On the latter occasion it was proposed to purchase and pull down the whole of its build- 
ings extending from the Lawnmarket to the Cowgate, in order to open up the Parliament 
House. 4 This was not effected, however, till 1809, when the whole were swept away in 
preparing the site for the Advocate's Library. " All the houses in Beth's Wynd," says 
Chambers, " were exceedingly old and crazy ; and some mysterious looking cellar doors 
were shown in it, which the old wives of the wynd believe to have been kept shut since 
the time of the plague.'''' The same superstitious belief was prevalent in regard to some 
grim and ancient uninhabited dwellings in Mary King's Close, part of which now remain. 
An old gentleman has often described to us his visits to the latter close, along with his 
companions, when a schoolboy. The most courageous of them would approach these dread 
abodes of mystery, and after shouting through the keyhole or broken window-shutter, 
they would run off with palpitating hearts, 

" Like one, that on a lonesome road 

Doth walk in fear and dread, 
And having once turned round, walks on 

And turns no more his head ; 
Because he knows a frightful fiend 

Doth close behind him tread." 

The popular opinion was, that if these houses were opened, the imprisoned pestilence 
would burst out, spreading disease and death through the land, a belief that was probably 
thrown into discredit on the peaceful demolition of the former wynd. 

A house at the head of Beth's Wynd, fronting the Old Tolbooth, was the residence of 
Mr Andrew Maclure, writing-master, one of the civic heroes of 1745. He joined the 
reluctant corps of volunteers who marched to meet the Highland army on its approach 
towards Corstorphine ; but they had scarcely left the town walls a mile behind, when their 

1 Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 98. s Ibid, Part II. p. 326. 

8 i.e.. All thatched houses should be unroofed. 4 Caledonian Mercury, 17th January 1788. 


courage failed them, and they marched hastily home again without having even seen the 
enemy. This corps of martial burghers became a favourite butt for the Jacobite wits ; and, 
among other proofs of their self-devoted zeal, it transpired that the gallant penman had 
secured within his waistcoat the professional breastplate of a quire of paper, and prepared 
himself for his expected fate by affixing thereon a label, inscribed, " This is the body of 
Andrew Maclure, let it be decently interred," in the hope that he might thereby be secure 
of Christian burial ! l 

Before closing the chapter, we may add that the Lawnmarket appears to have been, 
at all periods, a place of residence for men of note. In 1572 Mr Henry Killigrew, the 
ambassador of Queen Elizabeth, arrived at Edinburgh to congratulate the Earl of Morton 
on his accession to the Regency, 2 when he " depairtit to Dauid Forrestaris lugeing abone 
the tolbuith," 3 in the same neighbourhood as the mansion in Old Bank Close, soon after- 
ward occupied by Sir William Durie. So long as Edinburgh continued to be the seat of 
the Scottish Parliament, its vicinity to the Parliament House made the Lawnmarket be 
selected as a favourite place of residence, as appears from numerous passing allusions to 
the old nobility, though the particular houses referred to cannot now be traced. Defoe, 
for example, who was resident in Edinburgh at the period, tells us in his history of the 
Union, that on the 28th October 1706, the Parliament sat late, and the Parliament Close 
was so full of people waiting the result of their decision, that the members could scarcely 
get out. On this occasion the Duke of Hamilton, the popular favourite, who was usually 
conducted in triumph by the mob to his lodgings in the Abbey, " on leaving the house, 
was carried up to the Lawnmarket, and so to the lodgings of the Duke of Atholl," who 
was appointed, as Lockhart tells us, in the place of the Duke of Queensberry at the 
beginning of this session of parliament, the latter wishing to see the course of public 
affairs before he ventured himself to face the difficulties of that period, " and therefore he 
sent the Duke of Atholl down as Commissioner, using him as the monkey did the cat 
in pulling out the hot roasted chestnuts." 4 Here also was the house of Sir Patrick 
Johnston, the city member, tradition points out the old land still standing at the head 
of Johnston's Close, 6 which was attacked and gutted by the same excited mob, in their 
indignation at his favouring the unpopular measure of the Union. 

1 Adjoining Mr Maclure's house was the Baijen Hole, an ancient and once celebrated baker's shop ! The origin of 
this epithet has puzzled our local historians, but it occurs in Crawfurd's History of the University of Edinburgh, as 
applied to the junior class of Students, whose patronage, above a century ago, of a famed species of rolls manufactured 
there, under the name of Souter's Clods, had doubtless led to this title for the place, which resembled the laigh shops 
Btill remaining underneath the oldest houses of the High Street. 

2 Craufurd's Memoirs, p. 244. 8 Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 313. * Lockhart's Mems. p. 139. 

5 This we have on the authority of an old man, a pewterer, who has been an inhabitant of The Bow for the last fifty 



fPHE grim and massive prison of the old Scottish capital, which had degenerated to 
that base office after having served for the hall of the national parliaments, for the 
College of Justice founded by James V., and for some of the earliest assemblies of the 
kirk, has, in our own day, acquired a popular interest, and a notoriety as extensive as the 
diffusion of English literature, under the name of " The Heart of Midlothian." Such is 
the power of genius, that the association of this ancient fabric with the assault of the 
Porteous mob, and the captivity of the " Effie Deans" of the novelist's fancy, has been 
able to confer on it an interest, even in the minds of strangers, which all the thrilling 
scenes during the eventful reigns of our own Jameses, the tumults of Mary's brief reign, 
and the civil commotions of that of her son, had failed to excite in the minds of 

The site of the Tolbooth was in the very heart of the ancient capital, and so placed 
that it might have occurred to a fanciful mind to suppose, that the antique fabric had been 

VIGNETTE. North aide of the Tolbooth. 


dropped whole and complete into the midst of the pent-up city. It stood at the north- 
west corner of St Giles's Church, so close to that ancient building as only to leave a 
narrow footpath beyond its projecting buttresses ; while the tall and gloomy-looking pile 
extended so far into the main street that a roadway of fourteen feet in breadth was all 
thai intervened between it and the lofty range of buildings on the opposite side. We 
cannot better describe this interesting building than in the lively narrative of Scott, 
written about the time of its demolition, " The prison reared its ancient front in the 
very middle of the High Street, forming the termination to a huge pile of buildings called 
the Luckenbooths, which, for some inconceivable reason, our ancestors had jammed into 
the midst of the principal street of the town, leaving for passage a narrow way on the 
north ; and on the south into which the prison opens a crooked lane, winding betwixt 
the high and sombre walls of the Tolbooth and the adjacent houses on the one side, and 
the buttresses and projections of the old cathedral upon the other. To give some gaiety to 
this sombre passage, well known by the name of the Krames, a number of little booths or 
shops, after the fashion of cobblers' stalls, were plastered, as it were, against the Gothic 
projections and abutments, so that it seemed as if the traders had occupied every ' buttress 
and coigne of vantage,' with nests bearing the same proportion to the building as the 
martlet's did in Macbeth's Castle." The most prominent features in the south front of 
the Tolbooth, of which we furnish an engraving, were two projecting turret staircases. 
A neatly carved Gothic doorway, surmounted by a niche, gave entrance to the building 
at the foot of the eastern tower; and this, on its demolition in 1817, was removed by Sir 
Walter Scott to Abbotsford, and there converted to the humble office of giving access to 
his kitchen court. 1 

Some account has already been given, in our brief sketch of the period of Queen Mary, 2 
of the mandate issued by her in 1561, requiring the rebuilding of the Tolbooth, and the 
many difficulties that the city had to encounter in satisfying this royal command. The 
letter sets forth, that " The Queiny's Majestie, understanding that the Tolbuith of the 
Burgh of Edinburgh is ruinous and abill haistielie to dekay and fall doun, quhilk will be 
warray dampnable and skaythfull to the pepill dwelland thairabout . . . without 
heistie remeid be providit thairin. Thairfor hir Heines ordinis ane masser to pass and 
charge the Provest, Baillies, and Counsale, to cans put workmen to the taking doun of the 
said Tolbuith, with all possible deligence." " In obedience to the Queen's command," 
says Maitland, "the Tolbooth was taken down." 3 It has already been shown, however, 
in the earlier allusions to the subject, that this is an error. The new building was erected 
entirely apart from it, adjoining the south-west corner of St Giles's Church, and the 
eastern portion of the Old Tolbooth bore incontestible evidence of being the work of a 
much earlier period than the date of Queen Mary's mandate. 

1 Sir Walter Scott remarks, in a note to the edition of his works issued in 1830, "Last year, to complete the 
change, a torn-tit was pleased to build her nest within the lock of the Tolbooth, a strong temptation to have committed 
a sonnet." The nest we must presume to have occupied the place of the lock, the key-hole of which, when deprived of 
the scutcheon, would readily admit the torn-tit. The original lock and key, which were made immediately after the 
Porteous mob, were in the possession of Messrs Cormack & Son, Leith Street, and formed the most substantial produc- 
tions of the Locksmith's art we ever saw. The lock measured two feet long by one broad ; and the key, which was about 
a foot long, looked more like a huge iron mace. 

2 Ante, p. 71. 3 Maitland, p. 21. 


The ancient prison of Edinburgh had its EAST and WEST ENDS, known to the last by 
these same distinctive appellations, that mark the patrician and plebeian districts of the 
British metropolis. The line of division is apparent in our engraved view, showing the 
western and larger portion of the building constructed of coarse rubble work, while 
the earlier edifice, at the east end, was built of polished stone. This distinction was 
still more apparent on the north side, which, though much more ornamental, could 
only be viewed in detail, owing to the narrowness of the street, and has not, as far 
as we are aware, been represented in any engraving. 1 It had, on the first floor, a large 
and deeply splayed square window, decorated on either side with richly carved Gothic 
niches, surmounted with ornamental canopies of varied designs. A smaller window 
on the floor above was flanked with similar decorations, the whole of which were, in all 
probability, originally filled with statues. Maitland mentions, and attempts to refute, a 
tradition that this had been the mansion of the Provost of St Giles's Church, but there 
seems little reason to doubt that it had been originally erected as some such appendage 
to the church. The style of ornament was entirely that of a collegiate building attached 
to an ecclesiastical edifice ; and its situation and architectural adornments suggest the 
idea of its having been the residence of the Provost or Dean, while the prebends and 
other members of the college were accommodated in the buildings on the south side 
of the church, removed in the year 1632 to make way for the Parliament House. If this 
idea is correct, the edifice was, in all probability, built shortly after the year 1466, when 
a charter was granted by King James III., erecting St Giles's into a collegiate church ; 
and it may further have included a chapter-house for the college, whose convenient 
dimensions would lead to its adoption as a place of meeting for the Scottish Parlia- 
ments. The date thus assigned to the most ancient portion of the " Heart of Mid- 
lothian," receives considerable confirmation from the style of the building ; but 
Parliaments had assembled in Edinburgh long before that period ; three, at least, were 
held there during the reign of James I., and when his assassination at Perth, in 1437, led 
to the abandonment of the Fair City as the chief residence of the Court, and the capital of 
the kingdom, the first general council of the new reign took place in the Castle of Edin- 
burgh. We have already described the remains of the Old Parliament Hall still existing 
there ; and this, it is probable, was the scene of all such assemblies as were held at 
Edinburgh in earlier reigns. 

The next Parliament of James II. was summoned to meet at Stirling, the following 
year, in the month of March ; but another was held that same year in the month of 
November, " in pretorio burgi de Edinburgh." The same Latin term for the Tolbooth is 
repeated in the minutes of another Assembly of the Estates held there in 1449 ; and, in 
1451, the old Scottish name appears for the first time in " the parleament of ane richt hie 
and excellent prince, and our soverane lorde, James the Secunde, be the grace of Gode, 
King of Scotts, haldyn at Edinburgh the begunyn in the Tolbuth of the samyn." 2 A 
much older, and probably larger, erection must therefore have existed on the site of the 

1 We have drawn the view at the head of the Chapter from a slight sketch taken shortly before its demolition, by 
Mr D. Somerville ; with the assistance of a most ingenious model of St Giles's Church and the surrounding buildings, 
made by the Rev. John Sime, about the year 1805, to which we were also partly indebted for the south view of the same 

Acts of Scottish Parliaments, folio, vol. ii. 


western portion of the Tolbooth, the ruinous state of which at length led to the royal 
command for its demolition in 1561, not a century after the date we are disposed to 
assign to the oldest portion of the building that remained till 1817, and which, though 
decayed and time-worn, was so far from being ruinous even then, that it proved a work of 
great labour to demolish its solid masonry. 

In a charter granted to the town by James III. in 1477, the market for corn and grain 
is ordered to be held " fra the Tolbuth up to Libertones Wynde," 1 and we learn from the 
Diurnal of Occurrents, that "the tour of the Auld Tolbuyth wes tane doun in 1571." : 
The first allusion indicates the same site for the Tolbooth at that early period, as it 
occupied to the last, and seems to confirm the idea suggested as to the earlier fabric. The 
name Tolbooth literally signifies tax-house, 8 and the existence of a building in Edinburgh, 
erected for this purpose, might be referred, with every probability, to even an earlier 
period than the reign of David L, who bestowed considerable grants on his monastery 
of the Holy Cross, derivable from the revenues of the town. 4 From the anxiety of the 
magistrates to retain the rents of their " laigh buthis " in this ancient building, another 
site was chosen in 1561 for the New Tolbooth, a little to the south of the old one; and 
some ten years later, as appears from the old diarist, the tower was at length demolished, 
and also probably the whole of the most ancient edifice. One of the carved stones from 
the modern portion of the building, apparently the centre crow-step that crowned the 
gable, was preserved, among other relics of similar character, in the nursery of Messrs 
Eagle and Henderson, Leith Walk. It bore on it the city arms, sculptured in high relief, 
and surmounted by an ornamental device with the date 1641. The style of the new 
building, though plain and of rude workmanship, entirely corresponded with this date, 
being that which prevailed towards the close of Charles L's reign. The unsettled state 
of the country at that period, and the heavy exactions to which Edinburgh had been 
exposed, both by the King and the covenanting leaders, abundantly account for the 
plain character of the latter building. The only ornaments on the north side consisted 
of two dormer windows, rising above the roof, with plain string-courses marking the 
several stories. 

The ornamental north gable of the most ancient portion of the building, appears to 
have been the place of exposure for the heads and dismembered limbs of the numerous 
victims of the sanguinary laws of Scotland in early times. In the year 1581, the head of 
the Earl of Morton " was sett upon a prick, on the highest stone of the gavell of the 
Tolbuith, toward the publict street," and the same point, after doing the like ignominious 
service to many of inferior note, received, in 1650, the head of the gallant Marquis of 
Montrose, which remained exposed there throughout the whole period of the Common- 
wealth, and was taken down at length, shortly after the Eestoration, with every demonstra- 

1 Maitland, p. 8. s Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 252. 

* "Mr George Ramsay, minister at Laswaid, teaching in Edinburgh [1593], charged the Lords of the Colledge of 
Justice with selling of justice. He said they sold in the Tolbuith, and tooke payment at home, in their chambers : that 
the place of their judgement was justlie called Tol-buith, becaus there they tooke toll of the subjects." Calderwood's 
Hist. Tol. v. p. 290. For this he was summoned before the judges, but was dismissed, after some contention. 

4 It is perhaps worthy of notice in regard to this subject, that the site of the Weigh-house, which, like the Tolbooth, 
encroached on the main street, " was granted to the Edinburghers by King David II., in the 23d year of his reign, aunu 
1352." Maitland, p. 181. 


tion of national honour and triumph, and committed, along with the other portions of his 
body, to the tomb of his ancestors, in the south transept of St Giles's Church. The north 
gable was not, however, long suffered to remain unoccupied. On the 27th of May 1661, 
little more than four months after the tardy honours paid to the Marquis of Montrose, 
the Marquis of Argyle was beheaded at the Cross, and " his heid affixt upone the held of the 
Tolbuith, quhair the Marques of Montrois wes affixit of befoir." l The ground floor of this 
ancient part of the Tolbooth was known by the name of the Purses, by which it is often 
alluded to in early writings. In the ancient titles of a house on the north side of the 
High Street, it is described as " that Lodging or Timber Land, lying in the burgh of 
Edinburgh, forgainst the place of the Tolbooth, commonly called the poor folks' Purses." 
In the trial of William Maclauchlane, a servant of the Countess of Wemyss, who was 
apprehended almost immediately after the Porteous mob, one of the witnesses states, that 
" having come up Beth's Wynd, he tried to pass by the Purses on the north side of the 
prison ; but there perceiving the backs of a row of armed men, some with staves, others 
with guns and Lochaber axes, standing across the street, who, he was told, were drawn 
up as a guard there, he retired again." The crime sought to be proved against Maclauch- 
lane, was his having been seen taking a part with this guard, armed with a Lochaber axe. 
Another witness describes having seen some of the magistrates going up from the head of 
Mary King's Close, towards the Purses on the north side of the Tolbooth, where they 
were stopped by the mob, and compelled to make a precipitate retreat. This important 
pass thus carefully guarded on the memorable occasion of the Porteous riot, derived its 
name from having been the place where the ancient fraternity of Blue Gowns, the King's 
faithful bedemen, received the royal bounty presented to them on each King's birthday, 
in a leathern purse, after having attended service in St Giles's Church. For many years 
previous to the destruction of the Old Tolbooth, this distribution was transferred to the 
Canougate Kirk aisle, where it took place annually on the morning of the Sovereign's birth- 
day, at eight o'clock. After a sermon, preached by the royal almoner, or his deputy, each 
of the bedemen received a roll of bread, a tankard of ale, and a web of blue cloth sufficient 
to make him a new gown, along with a leathern purse, of curious and somewhat com- 
plicated workmanship, which only the initiated could open. This purse contained his annual 
alms or pension, consisting of as many pence as the years of the King's age. 

The origin of this fraternity is undoubtedly of great antiquity. Bedemen appointed 
to pray for the souls of the King's ancestors and successors, were attached to royal 
foundations. They are mentioned about the year 1226, in the Chartulary of Moray, 2 
and many curious entries occurred with reference to them, in the Treasurers' accounts, 
previous to the Reformation. The number of these bedemen is increased by one every 
royal birthday, as a penny is added to the pension of each ; an arrangement evidently 
devised to stimulate their prayers for long life to the reigning sovereign, no less than for 
peace to the souls of those departed. 3 

1 Nicoll's Diary, p. 335. 2 Statist. Ace. xiii. 412. 

8 The following items appear in the Account of Sir Robert Melvill, Treasurer-Depute of King James VI. " Junij 
1590. Item, to Mr Peter Young, Elimosinar, twentie four gownis of blew clayth, to be gevin to xxiiij auld men, accord- 
ing to the yeiris of his hienes age. . . . Item, twentie four pursis, and in ilk purse twentie four schiling." Again 
in "Junij 1617, To James Murray, merchant, for fyftene scoir sex elnis and ane half elue of blew claith, to be gownis to 
f yf tie aiie aigeit men, according to the yeiris of his majesteis age. Item, to the workmen for careing of the gownis f ra 


It used to be a very interesting sight, on a fine summer morning, 1 between seven and 
eight o'clock, before the Canongate Kirk bell began to ring for the appointed service, to 
see the strange groups of Blue Gowns of all ages, from forty-five to ninety and upwards, 
assembling in front of the kirk. Venerable looking men, bent with the weight of years ; 
some lame, others blind, led by a boy or a wife, whose tartan or hodden-grey told of the 
remote districts from whence they had come, or perhaps by a rough Highland dog, look- 
ing equally strange on the streets of the ancient burgh ; while all the old bedemen were 
clad in their monastic-looking habits, and with large badges on their breasts. It was 
curious thus to see pilgrims from the remotest parts of Scotland and the Isles, the men 
of another generation, annually returning to the capital, and each contriving to arrive 
there on the very day of the King's birth and bounty. The reverend almoner, however, 
could scarcely have had a more inattentive congregation, a fact probably in some degree 
to be accounted for by many of them understanding nothing but Gaelic. At the close of 
the sermon the bread and ale were distributed, along with their other perquisites, and 
thereafter the usual benediction closed the services of the day, though generally before 
that point was reached the bedemen had disappeared, each one off to wend his way home- 
ward, and to " pass and repass," as his large badge expressly bore, until the return of the 
annual rendezvous. 

Shortly after the accession of her present Majesty, whose youth must have had such 
an economic effect on the royal bounty, this curious relic of ancient alms-giving was shorn 
of nearly all its most interesting features. Certain members of the Canongate kirk- 
session, it is said, were scandalised at the exhibition of the butt of ale at the kirk vestry 
door, and possibly also at its exciting so much greater interest with the Queen's bedemen 
than any other portion of the established procedure. "Whatever be the reason, the annual 
church service has been abandoned ; the royal almoner's name no longer appears in the 
list of her Majesty's Scottish household ; and the whole business is now managed in 
the most matter-of-fact and commonplace style at the Exchequer Chambers in the 
Parliament Square, not far from the ancient scene of this annual distribution of the royal 

At the west end of the Tolbooth a modern addition existed, as appears in our engrav- 
ing, rising only to the height of two stories. This was occupied by shops, while the flat 
roof formed a platform whereon all public executions took place, after the abandonment 
of the Grassmarket in the year 1785. The west gable of the old building bore the appear- 
ance of rude and hasty construction ; it was without windows, notwithstanding that it 
afforded the openest and most suitable aspect for light, and seemed as if it had been so 
left for the purpose of future extension. The apartments on the ground floor of the main 
building were vaulted with stone, and the greater part of them latterly fitted up for 
shops, 2 until the demolition of the citadel of the old guard in 1785, soon after which 
those on the north side were converted into a guard-house for the accommodation of that 
veteran corps. 

James Aikman, tailyeour, heis hous, to the palace of Halyrude hous," &o. From this last entry, the distribution would 
appear to have been anciently made at the palace. 

1 P"or many years the 4th of June, the Birthday of George III. 

* In one of these Mr Horner, father of the eloquent and gifted Francis Horner, M.P., one of the originators of the 
Edinburgh Keview, carried ou business as a silk mercer. 


Previous to the extension or rebuilding of the west portion of the Tolbooth, it had 
furnished accommodation for the wealthiest traders of the city, and there also some of the 
most imposing displays took place on Charles I. visiting his northern capital in 1633. 
' ; Upon the west wall of the Tolbooth," says an old writer, 1 " where the Goldsmiths' shops 
do stand, there stood ane vast pageant, arched above, on ane large mab the pourtraits of 
a hundred and nine kings of Scotland. In the cavity of the arch, Mercury was represented 
bringing up Fergus the first King of Scotland in ane convenient habit, who delivered to 
his Majesty a very grave speech, containing many precious advices to his royal suc- 
cessor ; " a representation, not altogether in caricature, of the drama often enacted on 
the same spot, at a later period, when Jock Heigh, the Edinburgh Jack Ketch for above 
forty years, played the part of Mercury, bringing up one in ane convenient habit, to hear 
a very grave speech, preparatory to treatment not unlike that which the unfortunate 
monarch received, in addition to the precious advices bestowed on him in 1633. The 
goldsmiths' shops were latterly removed into the Parliament Close ; but George Heriot's 
booth existed at the west end of St Giles's Church till the year 1809, when Beth's 
Wynd and the adjoining buildings were demolished, as already described. A narrow 
passage led between the church and an ancient three-storied tenement adjoining the 
New Tolbooth, or Laigh Council House, as it was latterly called, and the centre one of 
the three booths into which it was divided, measuring about seven feet square, was 
pointed out by tradition as the workshop of the founder of Heriot's Hospital, where both 
King James and his Queen paid frequent visits to the royal goldsmith. On the demoli- 
tion of this ancient fabric, the tradition was completely confirmed by the discovery of 
George Heriot's name boldly carved on the stone lintel of the door. The forge and 
bellows, as well as a stone crucible and lid, supposed to have belonged to its celebrated 
possessor, were discovered in clearing away the ruins of the old building, and are now 
carefully preserved in the Hospital Museum. 

The associations connected with the ancient building we have described, are almost 
entirely those relating to the occupants whom it held in durance in its latter capacity as 
a prison. The eastern portion, indeed, had in all probability been the scene of stormy 
debates in the earlier Scottish Parliaments, and of deeds even ruder than the words of the 
turbulent barons. There also the College of Justice, founded by James V. in 1532, 
held its first sederunt ; the earliest statutes of the Court requiring that " all the lordis sail 
entre in the Tolbuth and counsal-houss at viij howris in the mornyng, dayly, and sail sit 
quhill xi howris be strikin." All these, however, had ceased to be thought of for centuries 
previous to the demolition of the tall and gloomy prison ; though even in its degradation 
it was connected with historical characters of no mean note, having been the final place of 
captivity of the Marquises of Montrose and Argyll, 2 and others of the later victims of 
factious rivalry, who fell a sacrifice to the triumph of their opponents. The main floor of 
the more ancient building, in its latter days, formed the common hall for all prisoners, 
except those in irons, or incarcerated in the condemned cells. It had an old oak pulpit of 
curious construction for the use of any one who took upon him the duties of prison chap- 
lain, and which tradition, as usual with most old Scottish pulpits, affirmed to have been 

1 Vide Campbell's Journey, vol. ii. p. 122. ! Nicoll's Diary, p. 334. 


occupied by John Knox. Here also there was inscribed on a board, the rhymes pre- 
served by Scott in the " Heart of Midlothian," which have been traced to an English 
poet of the seventeenth century : 

A prison is a house of care, 

A place where none can thrive, 
A touchstone true to try a friend, 

A grave for men alive. 
Sometimes a place of right, 

Sometimes a place of wrong, 
Sometimes a place for jades and thieves, 

And honest men among. 

The room immediately above the common hall may be presumed to have been " the 
upper chamber of the Tolbooth," 1 in which James V. held his first council, after escaping, 
in 1528, from his durance at Falkland Palace in the hands of the Douglas faction ; its 
latter use was as a dungeon for the worst felons, whose better security was insured by 
an iron bar placed along the floor. Here also the condemned criminal generally spent 
the last wretched hours of life, often chained to the same iron bar, and surrounded with the 
reckless and depraved, whose presence forbade a serious thought. It was indeed among 
the worst features of this miserable abode of crime, that its dimensions entirely precluded 
all classification. It had no open area attached to it, to which the prisoner might 
escape for fresh air, or even a glimpse of the light of day, and no solitary cell whither 
he might withdraw to indulge in the luxury of solitude and quiet reflection. Dante's 
memorable inscription for the gates of hell might have found no inappropriate place over 
its gloomy portal : 

All hope abandon, ye who enter here ! 

We must refer the reader to Chambers's " Traditions," for much that is curious and 
amusing among the legends of the Tolbooth, gathered from the tales of its old inmates, or 
the recollections of aged citizens. One of its most distinguishing traits, which it might be 
supposed to retain as an heirloom of its former more dignified duties, was a total suspension 
of its retentive capabilities whenever any prisoner of rank was committed to the custody of 
its walls. 2 A golden key, doubtless, was sometimes effectual in unlocking its ponderous 
bars ; but when this was provided against, other means were discovered for eliciting the 
convenient facility of "knowing those who ought to be respected on account of their rank." 
It is no less worthy of note, that occasions occurred in which the Tolbooth proved the only 
effectual road to freedom for some of the most notorious offenders, when seeking to elude 
the emissaries of justice. An old lady, to whose retentive memory we owe some interesting 
recollections of former times, when, as she was wont to say, she used to gather gowans on 
the banks of the Nor' Loch, and take a day's ramble in Bearford's Parks, 3 related the follow- 
ing as a tradition she had heard in early youth : When Mitchell, the fanatic preacher, who 

1 Chambers's Caledonia, vol. ii. p. 614. 

3 " The Viscount of Frendracht (of the surname of Creightoun), his brother being prissoner in the Tolbuith of Edin- 
burgh for murther, and once pannelt befoir the Criminall Judge, escapit, being clothed in ane womanes apperoll, upoue the 
ellevint day of Junij [1664], being Settirday, about sex houris at evin, in fair day licht." Nicoll's Diary, p. 414. 

8 The site of George Street, and the adjoining parts of the New Town. 


shot the Bishop of Orkney in 1668, at the head of Blackfriars Wynd, in an attempt to 
assassinate Archbishop Sharpe, so strangely eluded the strict search made for him; he effected 
his escape by taking refuge iu the Tolbooth, to which ingress, in latter times at least, was 
never very difficult. The city gates were shut at the time, and none allowed to go out 
without a passport signed by one of the magistrates, but it will readily be believed that the 
Tolbooth might be overlooked in the most vigilant pursuit after one who was to be con- 
signed to it the instant he was taken. It may be, however, that this interesting tradition 
is only a confused version of a later occurrence in the same reign, when Robert Ferguson, 
a notorious character, known by the name of " the Plotter," was searched for in Edin- 
burgh under somewhat similar circumstances, as one of the conspirators implicated in the 
Rye-House Plot. It was almost certainly known that he was in the town, and the gates 
were accordingly closed, but he also availed himself of the same ingenious hiding-place, and 
quietly withdrew after the whole town had been searched for him in vain. Another similar 
escape is mentioned in the " Minor Antiquities," where the Highlands were scoured by 
the agents of government in search for a gentleman concerned in the rebellion of 1745, 
while he was quietly taking his ease in " the King's Auld Tolbooth." 

Of the numerous female inmates of this " house of care," we shall only mention two, 
who contrast with one another no less strikingly in their crimes than in their fate. In the 
year 1726 great interest was excited by a trial for forgery, in which Mr George Hender- 
son, a wealthy merchant in Edinburgh, was accused of forging a bill upon the Duchess 
of Gordon for 58, which he had endorsed to Mrs Macleod, the wife of a wig-maker in 
Leith. Respectable citizens declared on oath that they had been present when Hender- 
son signed the bill, and had affixed their names to it in his presence as witnesses ; others 
had seen him on the same evening, a little above the Canongate Cross, in company with 
Mrs Macleod, and dressed in " dark coloured clothes, and a black wig." So conclusive 
did the whole evidence appear, that the Lord Advocate, Duncan Forbes of Culloden, pre- 
sented himself before the Court on the last day of the summer Session, and demanded the 
prisoner's conviction by a decree of the Judges. By the most strenuous exertions of council 
and friends, the cause was delayed till the winter Session, and meanwhile the Lord Advo- 
cate, when going north to Culloden, stopped at Kilravoch to inspect a new house that a 
friend was having built. One of the carpenters employed on the house, an intelligent and 
expert workman named David Household, could nowhere be found on the proprietor 
inquiring for him to furnish some information ; this casual incident led to inquiries, and 
at length to the discovery of a most ingenious and complicated system of fraud practised 
by Mrs Macleod with the aid of Household, whom she had dressed up in her own husband's 
black coat and wig, and bribed to personate the merchant who so narrowly escaped con- 
viction and execution. So deeply was the Lord Advocate impressed with the striking 
nature of the case, that he often afterwards declared, had Henderson been executed in 
accordance with his official desire, " he would have looked upon himself as guilty of 

On Household being shown to the witnesses, attired in his former disguise, they at once 
detected the fraud. Henderson was released, and Mrs Macleod put on trial in his stead. 
From the evidence produced, it appeared that this ingenious plot had been concocted for 
the pious purpose of raising, on the credit of the bill, a small sum to release her husband 


from prison j but the detection of its forgery involved her more deeply in crime. She 
was found guilty, and executed on the 8th of March following. If Mrs Macleod had shown 
art in contriving and executing this fraud, she displayed no less fortitude in meeting her 
fate. She went to the place of execution dressed in a black robe and petticoat with a 
large hoop, a white fan in her hand, and a white sarsenet hood on her head, according to 
the fashion of the times. When she came upon the scaffold, she put off the ornamental 
parts of her attire, pinned a handkerchief over her breast, and put the fatal cord about her 
neck with her own hands. She maintained the same courageous deportment to the last, 
and died denying her guilt. 1 

No prisoner incarcerated within the Old Tolbooth ever excited a greater degree of 
interest in the minds of contemporaries than the one whom we present in contrast to 
the last, Katharine Nairn, the daughter of Sir Robert Nairn, Bart., of Dunsinnane, who 
was brought to trial on the 5th of August 1765. She was accused and convicted of 
poisoning her husband, with the aid of his own brother, her associate in other crimes. 
The marriage appears to have been one of those unequal matches by which the happiness 
of woman is so often sacrificed to schemes of worldly policy. The victim, to whom she 
had been married in her nineteenth year, was a man of property, and advanced in life. 
Popular indignation was so strongly excited at the report of the deeds she had per- 
petrated, that she was with difficulty rescued from the mob on being first brought to 
Edinburgh ; yet her presence so wrought on the fickle populace, that her guilt was soon 
forgot in the sympathy excited by her youthful appearance. Both she and her paramour, 
who was an officer in the army, were condemned ; and the latter was executed in the 
Grassmarket, in accordance with his sentence, after he had been three times respited 
through the interest of his friends. Meanwhile the fair partner of his guilt obtained a 
reprieve in consequence of her pregnancy ; and only two days after her accouchement, she 
composedly walked out of the Tolbooth, disguised in the garments of Mrs Shields, the 
well-known midwife who had attended on her during her confinement, and added to her 
other favours this extra-professional delivery. In her confusion she knocked at Lord Alva's 
door in James's Court, mistaking it for that of her father's agent ; but the footboy, who 
opened the door with a candle in his hand, had been present at the trial, and immediately 
raised the hue and cry, while she took to her heels down a neighbouring close. She was 
concealed for some time in the immediate neighbourhood of the prison, in a cellar about half- 
way down the old back stairs of the Parliament Close, attached to the house of her uncle, 
who was afterwards promoted to the Bench under the title of Lord Dunsinnane. Our 
informant, an elderly gentleman, added, when relating it, that he was himself in- 
debted to Mrs Shields for his first entrance on " the stage of life ; " and the old lady 
when narrating her successful jail delivery, used to hint, with a very knowing look, "that 
there were other folk besides her could tell the same tale," meaning, as was surmised, that 
neither the turnkey nor the Lord Advocate were quite ignorant of the exchange of mid- 
wives at the time. Katharine Nairn at length effected a safe flight to the Continent, 
disguised in an officer's uniform ; 2 from thence she escaped to America, where she is said 

1 Arnot's Criminal Trials, 8vo, p. 317. 

1 She was conducted to Dover in a post-chaise, under care of one of her uncle's clerks. This person was kept in 
constant dread of discovery during the journey from the extreme frivolity of her conduct. 



to have married again, and died at an advanced age surrounded by a numerous and 
attached family, a striking contrast in love and fortune to the too faithful wife of the 
poor wig-maker of Leith. 

The hero, however, of the Tolbooth, to modern readers, is Captain Porteous. 1 The 
mob that thundered at its ancient portal on the eventful night of the 7th September 1 736, 
and dashed through its blazing embers to drag forth the victim of their indignant revenge, 
has cast into the shade all former acts of Lynch Law, for which the Edinburgh populace were 
once so notorious. The skill with which the great novelist has interwoven the leading 
acts of this striking act of popular vengeance, with the thrilling scenes of his beautiful 
fiction, has done much to extend its fame, yet all the main features of the Porteous mob, as 
related in the " Heart of Midlothian," are strictly true, and owe their influence on the mind 
of the reader less to the daring character of the act, than to the moderation and singleness 
of purpose with which it was accomplished. This has tended to confirm the belief that 
the leaders of the mob were men of rank and influence, and although any evidence since 
obtained seems rather to suggest a different opinion, 2 most of the older citizens, who have 
conversed in their youth with those who had witnessed that memorable tumult, adhere to 
the idea then generally entertained, that the execution of Porteous was the act of men 
moving in the higher ranks of society. We have been informed by a gentleman to whom 

1 The following curious account of the attempt at escape by Robertson and Wilson, whose proceedings formed the 
first act in the drama of the Porteons Mob, is given in the Caledonian Mercury for April 12, 1736: "Friday 
morning last, about two o'clock, the felons in the city jail made a grand attempt to escape; for which purpose Ratcliff 
and Stewart, horse-stealers, some time brought over from Aberbrothock, had dropt a pack-thread out of a window, 
to the end of which their accomplices tied spring saws and some other accoutrements, wherewith Ratcliff and Stewart 
cut through the great iron bars that secure a very thick window on the inside, and afterwards the cross grate in 
the window ; they then cut a large hole in the floor of their apartment, which is immediately over that wherein Robert- 
son and Wilson (condemned to suffer Wednesday next) lie ; which last, in return for this friendly office, contributed 
in the following manner to bring about their mutual escape, viz., Ratcliff and Stewart lay every night nailed to the 
floor by a long iron bar fifteen inches round, the supporters whereof detain prisoners at the middle of the bar, 
and are fastened with smaller iron bars passing through the floor to the apartment below, fixed there with wedges 
through eyes, which wedges being struck out by Robertson and Wilson, Ratcliff and Stewart had access to shift 
themselves to the end of the bar and unlock it. Being thus disengaged, they hauled Robertson and Wilson up 
through the hole, and then proceeded to break out at a window fronting the north ; and, lest the sentinel on duty 
at the Purses should mar the design, their associates in woman-dress had knocked him down. Stewart accordingly 
came down the three storeys by a rope, in his shirt, and escaped ; Wilson essayed it next, but being a squat round 
man, stuck in the grate, and before he could be disentangled, the guard was alarmed. Nor was it possible for 
the keepers to hear them at work ; for whenever those in the upper apartment fell a sawing, they below sung 
psalms. When they had done, Millar of Balmeroy, his wife, and daughter, tuned up another in their apartment, and so 

" Yesterday forenoon Robertson and Wilson were carried from prison to the Tolbooth Kirk, to hear their last sermon, 
but were not well settled there when Wilson boldly attempted to break out, by wrenching himself out of the hands of 
four armed soldiers. Finding himself disappointed here, his next care was to employ the soldiers till Robertson should 
escape ; this he effected by securing two of them in his arms ; and, after calling out, Geordie, do for thy life I snatched 
hold of a third with his teeth. Hereupon Robertson, after tripping up the fourth, jumped out of the seat, and run over 
the tops of the pews with incredible agility, the audience opening a way for him sufficient to receive them both ; and in 
hurrying out at the south gate of the church, he tumbled over the collection-money. Thence he reeled and staggered 
through the Parliament Close, and got down to the New StairSj and often tripped by the way, but had not time to fall, 
some of the guard being close after him. Passing down the Cowgate, he ran up the Horse Wyud, and out at the Potter- 
row Port, the crowd all the way covering his retreat, who, by this time were become so numerous, that it was dangerous 
for the guard to look after him. In the wynd he made up to a saddled horse, and would have mounted him, but 
the gentleman to whom the horse belonged prevented him. Passing the Crosscauseway, he got into the King's Park, 
and took the Duddingston Road. Upon Robertson's getting out of the church door, Wilson was immediately carried 
out, without getting sermon, and put in close custody to prevent his escape, which the audience seemed much inclined 
to favour. So that he must pay for all Wednesday next." 

2 Ante, p. 109. 


we are indebted for other curious traditions, that his great-grandfather, Lord Alva, had 
often assured his grandfather of this, and stated, in corroboration, that Lord Haddington 
was known to have taken a prominent share in the proceedings, disguised in his own 
cook-maid's dress. There is little reason to anticipate that the mystery in which this 
deed of popular justice is involved will ever be further cleai-ed up, now that nearly a 
century and a half has elapsed since its occurrence. The absence, however, of all acts 
of violence or private injury, seems rather to prove the unanimity of feeling that prevailed 
on the occasion, than the presence of actors from the upper ranks of society ; since, how- 
ever much the latter might desire to accomplish their purpose with the calm severity of a 
judicial act, their inclinations could have had little effect in securing the moderation of the 
rabble, to whom, on any other occasion, such an event would have proved so favourable an 
opportunity for excess. We shall conclude our notice of this memorable deed, with the 
very circumstantial narrative furnished in the evidence of George Wilson, a workman in 
Edinburgh, as confirmed and extended by other witnesses examined on the trial of William 
Maclauchhine, already alluded to. Their account is divested of the usual legal formality, 
and otherwise somewhat abridged, but the substance is as follows : Wilson stated that 
he arrived about eleven o'clock at night at the Tolbooth, where he saw faggots of broom 
brought by some of the mob, with which they set fire to the door. He waited till he 
saw Captain Porteous brought down ; and after that the- mob carried him up the Lawn- 
market until they came to Stewart's sign-post, near the Bow head, over which some of 
them proposed to hang him, but others were against it. He was stopped a second time 
at the Weigh-house. By this time Wilson contrived to get near Porteous, and heard some 
of the rioters propose to hang him over the Weigh-house stair, but here the witness was 
recognised as an intruder, and knocked down by one of the ringleaders in female attire. 
After being run over by a number of the mob, Wilson recovered himself, and followed 
them to the Grassmarket, where he saw Porteous dragged to the dyer's tree, whereon 
he was hanged. There he saw the wretched captive give his purse to a wealthy citizen 
who was near, to be delivered to his brother, a fact afterwards confirmed by the evidence 
of the citizen himself. The account this witness gives of the mode in which the 
final object of all this procedure was accomplished, fully confirms the resolute com- 
posure with which the rioters are said to have acted throughout. He saw the rope 
put about Porteous's neck, but he was not drawn up until it was reported that the 
military were coming from the Cauongate by the Hospital port, at the foot of Leith 
Wyud. Even after Porteous was hung up, he was twice let down again. The first 
time the rope was not right about his neck ; and when he had been a second time drawn 
up he was again let down, and his shirt drawn over his face. Others of the mob, how- 
ever, were more violent in their proceedings, striking him on the face with their Lochaber- 
axes, and shouting to cut off his ears, and otherwise to wreak their vengeance on him. 
William Turner, another witness, mentions having observed Porteous, after he was hung 
up, struggling to take hold of the rope, but the rioters struck at him with their weapons, 
and compelled him to quit his hold. When they were satisfied that their object was 
accomplished, they nailed the end of the rope to the pole, flung away their weapons, and 
rapidly dispersed. 

Such is the narrative, as related by eye-witnesses, immediately after the occurrence of 


this memorable event. The newspapers for some time afterwards abound with notices of 
the precautions taken, when too late, to prevent the recurrence of an act, the idea of which 
can hardly have appeared otherwise than ridiculous even at the time. The gates of the 
Nether Bow Port were fastened back to preserve the free access of the military to the city; 
guards were established there ; the trained bands were called out ; grenadier companies 
quartered in the town and suburbs ; and most effectual means taken to prevent the hanging 
of a second Porteous, if any such had existed. 1 On the second day after his execution, the 
body of Porteous was interred in the Greyfriars Churchyard, 2 but the exact spot has long 
since ceased to be remembered. 3 

The Tolbooth of Edinburgh was visited by Howard in the year 1782, and again in 
1787, and on the last occasion he strongly expressed his dissatisfaction, declaring that he 
had expected to have found a new one in its stead. 4 It was not, however, till the year 
1817 that the huge pile of antique masonry was doomed to destruction. Its materials 
were sold in the month of September, and its demolition took place almost immediately 
afterwards. The following extract from a periodical of that period, while it shows with 
how little grief the demolition of the ancient fabric was witnessed, also points out the 
GRAVE OF THE OLD TOLBOOTH. It seems to have been buried with a sort of pauper's 
funeral, on the extreme outskirts of the new city that was rising up beyond those ancient 
boundaries of which it had so long formed the heart. " Now," says the writer, " that the 
Luckenbooths have been safely carted to Leith Wynd (would that it had been done some 
dozen years ago !) and the Tolbooth, to the unutterable delight of the inhabitants, is 
journeying quickly to Fettes Row, there to be transferred into common sewers and drains, 
the irregular and grim visage of the Cathedral has been in a great measure unveiled." 
The unveiling of the Cathedral had formed the grand object of all civic committees of 
taste for well-nigh half a century before ; the renovation of the ancient fabric thereby 
exposed to vulgar gaze became the next subject of discussion, until this also was at length 
accomplished in 1829, at the cost not only of much money, but of nearly all its ancient 
and characteristic features. Added to all these radical changes, the assistance rendered 
by the Great Fire of 1824, unexpectedly removed a whole range of eyesores to such 
reformers, in the destruction of the ancient tenements between St Giles's and the Tron 

As the only means of giving width and uniformity to the street, all this comes fairly 
within the category of civic improvements ; how far it tended to increase the picturesque 
beauty of the old thoroughfare is a very different question. Taylor, the Water Poet, 
in the amusing narrative of his " Pennylesse Pilgrimage " from London to Edinburgh, 
published in 1618, describes the High Street as "the fairest and goodliest street that 
ever mine eyes beheld, for I did never see or hear of a street of that length, which 
is half an English mile from the Castle to a faire port, which they calle the Neather 

1 Caledonian Mercury, September 23, 1736. 2 Ibid, September 9. 

3 "No less than seventeen criminals escaped from the city jail on this occasion, among whom are the dragoon who 
was indicted for the murder of the butcher's wife in Dunse, the two Newhaven men lately brought in from Blackness 
Castle for smuggling, seven sentinels of the city guard, &c." Ibid, September 9th. 

* Arnot, who never minces matters when disposed to censure, furnishes a very graphic picture of the horrors of the 
old jail of Edinburgh. Hist, of Edinburgh, p. 298. 

5 Edin. Mag. Nov. 18i7, p. 322. 


Bow, . . . the buildings on each side of the way being all of squared stone, five, 
six, and seven stories high." " When I came first into the High Street," says another 
traveller, writing more than a century after him, " I thought I had never seen anything 
of the kind more magnificent." Gradually, however, the traveller learned, from his 
civic entertainers, to mingle suggestions of improvement with his admiration. " You 
have seen," says Topham, writing from Edinburgh in 1776, " the famous street at 
Lisle, la Rue Royale, leading to the port of Tournay, which is said to be the finest in 
Europe, but which, I can assure you, is not to be compared either in length or breadth 
to the High Street at Edinburgh." He adds, however, " would they be at the expense 
of removing some buildings which obstruct the view, nothing could be conceived 
more magnificent." Similar remarks might be quoted from later travellers; we shall 
only add that of our greatest living landscape painter, Turner, expressed since the removal 
of the Luckenbooths, that " the old High Street of Edinburgh was only surpassed in 
Europe by that of Oxford." Imposing as the effect of the High Street still is, 
although scarcely a year passes without the loss of some one or other of its ancient and 
characteristic features, we doubt if its broad and unencumbered thoroughfare will ever 
again meet with the praise that it received from travellers who had to pass through the 
narrow defile of the Purses, or thread their way along by the still more straitened 
Krames that clung on to the old church walls. So far as picturesque effect is concerned, 
this improvement very much resembles a reform effected of late years in Salisbury 
Cathedral. An ancient screen which divided the Lady Chapel from the choir had long 
been an eyesore to certain men of taste, who found in the glimpses of the little chapel 
that they caught beyond, far too much left to their imagination. It was accordingly 
demolished, under the direction of Mr James Wyatt, when, to their surprise, much of the 
rich effect of the chapel vanished along with the screen, and they began to think that it 
might have been a part of the original designer's intention to conceal the plain shafts of 
the pillars, while their capitals, and the rich groinings of the roof, alone appeared. We 
strongly suspect our city reformers fancied that every bit of the old church which the 
Luckenbooths concealed was to disclose features as rich as the fine Gothic crown they 
saw towering over the chimney- tops. 8 

The ancient buildings that occupied the middle of the High Street, between the 
Tolbooth and the Cross, formed a range of irregular and picturesque lands, nearly all 
with timber fronts and lofty peaked gables projecting into the street. Through one of 
these, an alley, sometimes called the Old-Kirk Style, led from the head of Advocates' 
Close to the old north porch of St Giles's Church, obliterated in the remodelling of that 
venerable edifice. This ancient alley is alluded to by the name it generally received 
to the last in Dunbar's Address to the Merchants of Edinburgh, written about the year 

1 Letters from the North of Scotland, 1754. 

Topham's Letters, p. 8. There is an amusing tendency in many minds to regard every near object as obstructing 
the view, without the least consideration of what lies beyond it. We heard lately of an English lady, who, on her arrival 
in Edinburgh, took up her abode in fashionable lodgings at the west end of Princes Street. On a friend inquiring how 
she liked the prospect from her window, she replied, that the view would really be very fine, were it not for that great 
castle standing in the way ! 

3 " The chief ornament of Edinburgh is St Giles's Church, a magnificent Gothic pile, the beauties of which are almost 
wholly concealed by the houses in its near neighbourhood, particularly the Luckenbooths, which, it is expected, will 
shortly he pulled down." Campbell's Journey, 1802, vol. ii. p. 125. 


1490 ; * and in the following century it was the scene of the assassination of M'Lellan 
of Bornbie, who in the year 1525, was waylaid and slain there in open day, with perfect 
impunity, by the lairds of Lochinvar and Drumlanrig, during the turbulent sway of 
the Douglases, in the minority of James V. Numerous personal encounters occurred 
at the same place in early times, consequent on its vicinity to the Parliament House 
and courts of law; and even after the fruits of many revolutions had put an end to 
such scenes of violence, this dark alley maintained somewhat of its old character, as a 
favourite resort of the thief and pickpocket, degenerate successors of the cateran and 
moss-trooper ! 

The buildings of the middle row were extremely irregular in character. The timber 
land immediately in front of St Giles's steeple was only three stories high, and with a very 
low-pitched roof, so as to admit of the clock being seen by passers in the High Street ; 
while the one adjoining it to the west, after rising to the height of five stories and finish- 
ing with two very steep overhanging gables in front, had a sixth reared above these, with 
a flat, lead roof, like a crow's nest stuck between the battlements of some ancient peel 
tower. 2 The two most easterly lands in the Luckenbooths differed from the rest in being 
tall and substantial erections of polished ashlar work. The first of these was surmounted 
with stone gables of unequal size, somewhat in the style of " Gladstone's land," at the head 
of Lady Stair's Close, and apparently built not later than the reign of Charles I. The other 
building, which presented its main front down the High Street, though evidently a more 
recent erection, yielded in interest to none of the private buildings of Edinburgh. " Creech's 
Land," as it was termed, according to the fashion of the burgh, after one of its latest and 
most worthy occupants, formed the peculiar haunt of the muses during the last century. 
Thither Allan Ramsay removed in 1725, immediately after publishing the first complete 
edition of his great pastoral poem, from the sign of the Mercury's Head, opposite Niddry's 
Wynd, and there, on the first floor, which had formerly been the London Coffee House, 
he substituted for his former celestial sign, the heads of Ben Jonson and Drummond 
of Hawthornden, and greatly extended his business with the profits of his successful 
devotion to the Muses. It was on his removal to this central locality that he established 
his circulating library, the first institution of the kind known in Scotland, not without 
both censure and interference from some of the stricter leaders of society at that period. 
" Profaneness," says Wodrow, " is come to a great height ; all the villanous, profane, 
and obscene books of plays, printed at London by Curie and others, are got down from 
London by Allan Ramsay, and lent out for an easy price to young boys, servant women 
of the better sort, and gentlemen; and vice and obscenity dreadfully propagated." 
Ramsay's fame and fortune progressed with unabating vigour after this period ; and 
his shop became the daily resort of the leading wits and literati, as well as of every 
traveller of note that visited the Scottish capital. 

1 Ante, p. 28. 

2 Maitlaud informs us (p. 181) that the Krames were first erected against St Giles's Church in 1555. The Booth- 
raw, or Luckeubooths, however, we have shown (ante, p. 172) was in existence 150 years before that, and probably 
much earlier. Maitland derives its latter name from a species of woollen cloth called Laken, brought from the Low 
Countries ; but Dr Jamieson assigns the more probable source in the old Scotch word Lucken, closed, or shut up ; 
signifying booths closed in, and admitting of being locked, in contradistinction to the open stands, which many still living 
can remember to have seen displayed in the Lawmnarket every market day. 


Gay, the poet, who, during- the latter years of his life, seems to have been as regularly 
installed into the household of the Duchess of Queensberry as ever any court-minstrel was 
in a palace of old, accompanied his patroness to Edinburgh, and resided for some time 
in the Canongatc, at Queensberry House. He became, as was to be anticipated, a frequent 
visitor of the Scottish poet, and is said to have derived great amusement from Ramsay's 
humorous descriptions of the leading citizens as they daily assembled at the Cross, within 
sight of his windows. That central spot " where merchants most do congregate," was 
then adorned with the ancient structure demolished in 1756, and formed the daily 
promenade for the ruffled and powdered exquisite to display his finery, no less than for the 
trader bent only on business. The wits of Edinburgh used to meet there, at the poet's 
shop, to amuse themselves with the intelligence of the day, and the most recent news in 
the world of letters. The late William Tytler, Esq., of Woodhouselee, had frequently seen 
Gay among these literary gossips, and described him as a pleasant-looking little man with 
a tye-wig. He recollected overhearing him desire Eamsay to explain many of the Scottish 
words and allusions to national customs that occur in the Gentle Shepherd, and which he 
engaged on his return to England to communicate to Pope, who was already an admirer 
of the beauties of that admirable pastoral. 1 The prospect, however, from Allan Ramsay's 
window, possessed other attractions for the poet besides the grave and humorous glimpses 
of human nature it afforded ; for, owing to the singular site of the Scottish capital, it 
commanded, although in the very heart of the town, a view for many miles into the 
country, looking across Preston Bay to the fertile landscape of East Lothian, and the 
heights that skirt the German Ocean. 

Allan Ramsay's library and business were transferred by his successor, Mr James 
Macewan, to the shop below ; and from him they passed into the hands of Mr Alexander 
Kincaid, an eminent bookseller and publisher, and a man of highly cultivated rnind, who 
took an active share in the management of civic affairs, and died while filling the office 
of Lord Provost, January 21st, 1777. He was interred with all the honours due to his 
rank, and his funeral appears to have excited an universal sensation at the period. 2 During 
his time the old land acquired an additional interest as a favourite lounge of Smollett, who 
visited Edinburgh in 1776, and resided for some time at his sister's house in the Canon- 
gate. He appears to have derived the same amusement as Gay from watching the curious 
groups that daily assembled in front of this ancient tenement. In the lively account of 
his visit given in Humphrey Clinker, he remarks " All the people of business at Edin- 
burgh, and even the genteel company, may be seen standing in crowds every day, from 
one to two in the afternoon, in the open street, at a place where formerly stood a market- 
cross, a curious piece of Gothic architecture, still to be seen in Lord Somerville's garden 
in this neighbourhood." Kincaid was succeeded in the shop and business by Mr William 
Creech, in whose hands this haunt of the Muses suffered no diminution of its attractions. 
He received a liberal education in early life ; added to which, an inexhaustible fund of 
amusing anecdote, and great conversational powers, served through life to make his society 
be courted by the most eminent men of his time, notwithstanding the acquirement latterly 
of penurious habits, and such a miserly keenness for money, as precluded not benevolence 

1 Scot. Mag., July 1802. 

2 A particular account of the funeral is given by Arnot, Appendix, No. XI. 


alone, but even, it is said, the honest discharge of commercial obligations. 1 For forty 
years Mr Creech carried on the most extensive publishing concern in Scotland, and during 
the whole of this long period nearly all the valuable literary productions of the time 
passed through his hands. He published the writings of the celebrated judge and 
philosopher, Lord Kames, who appears to have regarded him with friendship and esteem. 
He was also the publisher of the works of Drs Blair, Beattie, Campbell (the opponent of 
Hume), Cullen, Gregory, Adam Smith, Henry Mackenzie (the Man of Feeling), Lord 
Woodhouselee, Dugald Stewart, and Bums, besides many others of inferior note ; all of 
whom resorted to the old laud in the Luckenbooths, or to the more select assemblies that 
frequently took place at his breakfast table, designated by the wits Creech's levees. The 
old bibliopolist is the subject of Burns' amusing poem, " Willie ' area,'" written on the 
occasion of a long visit he paid to London in 1787, and forwarded to him by the poet at 
the time. One or two of its stanzas are very lively and characteristic : 

Willie was a witty wight, 
And had o' things an unco slight ; 
Auld Reekie aye he keepit tight, 

And trig and braw ; 
But uow they '11 busk her like a fright, 

Willie 'a awa. 

Nae mair we see his levee door, 
Philosophers and poets pour, 
And toothy critics by the score 

In bloody raw ; 
The adjutant oi a' the core, 

Willie 's awa. 

From the same classic haunt the Mirror and Lounger were originally issued, the appear- 
ance of which formed a new era in the literature of Edinburgh. The first paper of the 
Mirror appeared on Saturday, 23d January 1779, and created quite a sensation among the 
blue-stocking coteries of the capital. The succeeding numbers were delivered at Mr Creech's 
shop every Wednesday and Saturday, and afforded a general source of interest and literary 
amusement. Mr Mackenzie was the conductor and principal writer, but the chief contri- 
butors latterly formed themselves into the " Mirror Club," which consisted of Henry 
Mackenzie, Lord Craig, Lord Abercromby, Lord Bannatyne, Lord Cullen, George Home 
of Wedderburn, William Gordon of Newhall, and George Ogilvie, advocates. 2 Mr 
Creech, like his predecessor, bore his share in the civic government, and twice filled 
the office of Lord Provost. His reputation is still preserved by his " Fugitive Pieces," a 
work of considerable local celebrity, although affording a very imperfect idea of the wit 

1 Some curious illustrations, both of the wit and penuriousness of this old city bookseller, will be found scattered 
through the pages of " Kay's Portraits. " 

' 2 Lord Craig, then an advocate, was the originator, and, next to Mackenzie, the greatest contributor to the Mirror. The 
Club previously existed under the name of the Tabernacle, but assumed that which had been adopted for their periodical. 
The names of the writers were carefully concealed, and in order to avoid observation, the Club held its weekly meetings 
in no fixed place. " Sometimes in Clerihugh's, in Writer's Court, sometimes in Somer's, opposite the Guard House, 
in the High Street, sometimes in Stewart's Oyster House, in the Old Fishmarket Close," &c., when one of the most 
interesting occupations of the evening was the examination of the contents of the Contributors' box, which stood open 
for all correspondents, at Mr Creech's door. Fide Scot. Biog. Dictionary, Article "Craig " 


and humour that led Burns to style him " a birkie weel worth gowd," and made him a 
favourite among the large circle of eminent men who adorned the Scottish capital in the 
eighteenth century. He died in 1815, only two years before the interesting old land, 
which bore his name for nearly half a century, was levelled with the ground. 

A carefully engraved view of Creech's Laud is attached to the edition of his " Fugitive 
Pieces," published by his successor soon after his death. An outside stair at the north 
corner, which formerly gave access, according to the usual style -of the older houses, to 
Allan Ramsay's library, on the first floor, had been removed about ten years before, but 
the top of the doorway appears in the view as a small window. The laigh shop, which 
occupied the subterranean portion of this curious building, is worthy of mention here. 
Although such a dungeon as would barely suffice for the cellarage of a modern tradesman, 
it was for many years the button warehouse of Messrs T. & A. Hutcheson, extensive and 
wealthy traders, who, in the bad state of the copper coinage, when even George III. 
halfpennies would not pass current in Scotland, produced a coinage of Edinburgh half- 
pennies that were universally received. They were of excellent workmanship; bearing 
on one side the city arms, boldly struck, and on the other the figure of St Andrew. They 
continued in common use until the close of the last century, when a new copper coinage 
was introduced from the Mint. Since then they have gradually disappeared, and are now 
rarely to be met with except in the cabinets of the curious. 

At the entrance to the narrow passage on the south side of this old land, called the 
Krames, from the range of little booths stuck against the walls and buttresses of St 
Giles's Church, there formerly existed a flight of steps known by the name of " Our 
Lady Steps," from a statue of the Virgin that had once occupied a plain Gothic niche 
in the north-east angle of the church. An old gentlewoman is mentioned in the 
" Traditions of Edinburgh," who died about 1802, at the age of ninety, and who remembered 
having seen both the statue and steps in her early days. The existence of the statue at 
so recent a period, we suspect, must be regarded as an error of memory. It is scarcely 
conceivable that an image of the Virgin, occupying so prominent a position, could escape 
the fury of the Reforming mobs of 1559. 1 The niche, however, remained, an interesting 
memorial of other times, till it fell a sacrifice to the tasteless uniformity of modern 
beautifiers in 1829. 

The New Tolbooth, or Council House, has already been frequently alluded to, and its site 
described in the course of the work. 2 It was attached to the west wall of St Giles's Church, 
and at some early period there had existed a means of communication with it from the 
upper floors, as appeared by an arch that remained built up in the party wall. 3 A 
covered passage led through it into the Parliament Close, forming the only access to the latter 
from the west. From the period of the erection of this building in the reign of Queen 

" The poore made havocke of all goods moveable in the Blaoke and Gray friers, and left nothing but bare walls ; 
yea, not so muche as doore or window, BO that the Lords had the lesse to doe when they came. After their ooraing, all 
monuments of idolatrie within the toun, and in places adjacent, were suppressed and removed." 29th June 1559. Cal- 
derwood's Hist. vol. i. p. 475. 

Ante, p. 72. The previous statement is scarcely correct; however, the old Council House stood immediately to the 
north of the lobby of the Signet Library, but without occupying any part of its site ; the old building continued stand- 
ing until the other was built to some height. 

3 This also appears from the notice of the meeting of Parliament, 17th January 1572, ante, p. 84. 


Mary, the Scottish Parliaments arid the College of Justice assembled there, until their sitting 
were transferred to the fine hall which still remains in Parliament Square, though so strangely 
disguised externally by its modern facing. On the desertion of the New Tolbooth by the 
Scottish Estates and Courts of Law, it was exclusivly devoted to the deliberations of 
the civic counsellors, until the erection of the Royal Exchange provided enlarged 
accommodation for the Council. The Laigh Hall, where Assemblies both of the Kirk 
and Estates had often been held, was a large and handsome room. Its ceiling was beau- 
tifully wrought in various panels, with rich pendants from their centres, and finished with 
emblazonry and gilding. On its demolition some interesting and valuable relics of early 
decorations were brought to light. The walls had been originally panelled with oak, and 
when at a later period this came to be regarded as old-fashioned and inelegant, the. antique 
panelling was concealed, without removal, behind a modern coating of lath and plaster. 
There is reason to believe that the compartments of the walls when first completed had 
been filled with a series of portraits, but unfortunately, little attention was paid to the old 
building at the period of its destruction, and we are only aware of one of the paintings that 
has been preserved. There is much probability in favour of this being an original portrait 
of the Queen Regent, Mary of Guise. It is well painted on an oak panel, and in fine 
condition, and was at first believed to represent Queen Anne, the consort of James VI., 
having been almost completely obscured by smoke and dirt at the time of its discovery. It 
was then thought that it must have been accompanied by a portrait of James ; and it is 
exceedingly probable that others of equal value to the one thus accidentally preserved may 
have been thrown aside and destroyed with the discarded panelling. This curious portrait 
is now in the possession of Alexander Mackay, Esq. of Blackcastle. It represents the 
Queen in a high-bordered lace cap and ruff, such as both she and her daughter are usually 
painted with. The details of the lacework are elaborately rendered, and the expression of 
countenance is dignified and very pleasing. On the painting being cleaned, an ingenious 
monogram was brought to light, burned into the back of the panel, composing the word 
MARIA, and leaving, we think, little doubt of the genuineness of the portrait, which was 
thus found by accident, and has passed through no picture-dealer's hands. 

To this ancient building belong many of the later historical associations that have been 
referred by some of our local historians to its predecessor. It was from one of its windows 
that the affrighted monarch James VI. attempted in vain to appease the enraged citizens 
in 1596, when, "had they not been restrained by that worthy citizen, John Watt, the 
deacon-convener, who at this dangerous juncture assembled the crafts, they would 
undoubtedly have forced the door, and probably have destroyed the King and all that 
were with him." 1 The whole tumult appears to have resulted in mutual distrust, which 
was taken advantage of by some designing meddlers to set the Court and citizens at 
variance. The Kirk and King were at the time nearly at open strife, and Mr Robert 
Bruce was preaching to a select audience in St Giles's Church, preparatory to framing 
" certain articles for redresse of the wrongs done to the Kirk," while the King was sitting 
in the neighbouring Tolbooth, " in the seate of Justice, among the Lords of the Sessioun," 
seemingly thinking of nothing less than the granting of any such requests. While the 
Commissioners went to the Tolbooth to make their wishes known to the King, " Mr 

1 Maitland, p. 48. 


Michaell Cranstoun, then a verie fordward minister," profitably employed the leisure of 
the congregation by reading to them " the Historic of Hamau and Mordecai, and suche 
other places of Scripture. ... In the mean tyme, there ariseth a rumour in the toun, 
that the King had givin no good answere to the Kirk ; and in the Tolbuith, that the toun 
was in armes, before there was auie suche thing. But it fell furth so immediatelie ; for 
a messinger of Satan, suborned by some of the cubicular courteours, came to the kirk 
doore, and cried, ' Fly ! save yourselves ; ' and ranne to the streets, crying, ' Armour ! 
armour ! ' " * The consequences are readily conceivable, friends and enemies rushed 
together to the Tolbooth, and so thoroughly terrified the King, that he speedily after for- 
sook the capital, and vowed in his wrath that he would erase it from the face of the earth ! 
a proposition which he really seriously entertained. 2 

The last Parliament at which royalty presided was held in the same New Tolbooth, 
immediately after the coronation of Charles I., July 1633, and this was in all probability 
the latest occasion on which the Scottish Estates assembled in the ancient edifice, as the 
more modern Parliament House that still exists was then in course of erection. 

From this period the New Tolbooth was used exclusively for the meetings of the Town 
Council, by whom it had been erected, and it -was latterly known only by the name of the 
Council Chambers. Thither the unfortunate Earl of Argyle was brought from the Castle 
preparatory to his execution on the 30th June 1685, and from thence his farewell letter 
to his wife is dated. Fountainhall tells us, " Argile came in coach to the Toune Counsell, 
and from that on foot to the scaffold with his hat on, betuixt Mr Annand, Dean of Edin- 
burgh, on his right hand, to whom he gave his paper on the scaffold, and Mr Laurence 
Charteris, late Professor of Divinity in the College of Edinburgh. He was somewhat 
appaled at the sight of the Maiden, present death will danton the most resolute courage, 
therfor he caused bind the napkin upon his face ere he approached, and then was led to 
it." Notwithstanding this incident mentioned by Fountainhall, who in all probability 
witnessed the execution, it is well known that Argyle exhibited unusual composure and 
self-possession on the occasion. The Maiden was erected, according to ancient custom in 
cases of treason, at the Cross, so that the Earl would have only a few paces to walk across 
the Parliament Close from the Council Chambers, to reach the fatal spot. As a more 
recent association with both the earlier and later uses of this building, Maitland mentions 
in addition to an armoury and wardrobe which it contained that there also was the 
repository wherein were kept the sumptuous robes anciently worn by the City representa- 
tives in Parliament, together with the rich trappings and accoutrements for their horses, 
which were used in the pompous cavalcade at the opening of the Scottish Legislature, 
styled " The riding of Parliament." 4 

The Parliament Close, which lies to the south of St Giles's Church, has passed through 
a series of stranger and more remarkable vicissitudes than any other portion of the Old 
Town. Could an accurate narrative now be given of all the circumstances accompanying 
these successive changes, it would suffice to associate this narrow spot with many of the 
most memorable events in Scottish history, till the adjournment of its last Parliament 
there on the 22d of April 1707, never again to assemble. While St Giles's was the 

1 Calderwood's Hist., vol. v. p. 513. 2 Ante, p. 88. 

* Fountainhall's Historical Observes, p. 193. 4 Maitland, p. 180. 


small and solitary parish church of the ancient unwalled town, there was the burial-place 
for " the rude forefathers of the hamlet," and so it continued to the very end of the six- 
teenth century. Down to that period the site of the present courts was occupied in part 
by the collegiate building, for the residence of the prebendaries and other clergy that 
officiated at the numerous altars founded at different times in St Giles's Church. The 
whole of the remaining portion lay open towards the south, extending in successive 
terraces to the Cowgate, and the greater part of it appears to have remained in this con- 
dition till the latter end of the seventeenth century. In the nether kirkyard, between St 
Giles's Church and the Cowgate, stood the ancient chapel of the Holy Rood till the 
Reformation, when it appears to have been demolished, and its materials used in building 
the New Tolbooth. Doubtless the erection of the latter building, where all the great civic 
and national assemblies of the period took place, must have had considerable influence 
in leading to the abandonment of the old churchyard of St Giles as a place of burial. 
While its area continued enclosed with ecclesiastical buildings, and stood apart from the 
great thoroughfares of the town, it must have been a peculiarly solemn and fitting place of 
sepulture. But when the readiest access to the New Tolbooth was through the open church- 
yard, and instead of the old monk or priest treading among its grassy hillocks, it became 
the lounge of grooms and lackeys waiting on their masters during the meetings of Parlia- 
ment, or of quarrelsome litigants, and the usual retainers of the law, during the sessions 
of the College of Justice, all idea of sacredness must have been lost. Such appears to 
have been the case, from the fact that no record exists to show any formal abandonment 
of it as a churchyard. Queen Mary granted the gardens of the Greyfriars' monastery to 
the citizens in the year 1566, to be used as a cemetery, and from that period the old 
burial-place seems to have been gradually forsaken, until the neglected sepulchres of the 
dead were at length paved over, and the citizens forgot that their Exchange was built 
over their fathers' graves. 

One of the latest notices we have discovered of the ancient churchyard occurs in Calder- 
wood's narrative of the memorable tumult of 1596, described above, though the name 
probably remained long after it had ceased to be used as such. On that occasion " the 
noblemen, barons, and gentlemen that were in the kirk, went forth at the alarum, and 
were likewise in their armes. The Earl of Mar, and the Lord Halyrudhous, went out to 
the barons and miuistrie, couveenned in the kirkyard. Some hote speeches passt betuixt 
the Erie of Mar and the Lord Lindsey, so that they could not be pacified for a long 
tyme." Skirmishes and tumults of a like nature were doubtless common occurrences 
there; exasperated litigants frequently took matters into their own hands, and made a 
speedy end to " the law's delay," while the judges were gravely pondering their case 
within. In like manner the craftsmen and apprentices dealt with their civic rulers ; 
club law was the speediest arbiter in every difficulty, and the transference of the Tolbooth 
to the west end of the old kirkyard, transferred also the arena of such tumults to the 
same sacred spot. Yet with all this to account for the desertion of the ancient burial- 
place, it cannot but excite the surprise of every thoughtful observer, who reflects that 
within this consecrated ground, on the 24th November 1572, the assembled nobles and 
citizens committed John Knox, "the Apostle of the Scots," as Beza styles him, 

1 Calderwood's HisL, vol. v. p. 513. 


to the grave, 1 the Regent Morton pronouncing over him his brief, but just and memor- 
able requiem, and before the generation had passed away that witnessed and joined 
in his funeral service, the churchyard in which they laid him had been converted into 
a public thoroughfare. We fear this want of veneration must be regarded as a national 
characteristic, which Knox assisted to call into existence, and to which we owe much of 
the reckless demolition of time-honoured monuments of the past, which it is now thought 
a weakness to deplore. 2 

It is mentioned in the " Traditions," 3 on the authority of " the then Recorder of 
Edinburgh, that many of the tombstones were removed from St Giles's to the Greyfriars, 
where they still exist; " but we do not know of a single inscription remaining that gives 
probability to this assertion. All the monuments in the Greyfriars' Churchyard are of 
a later date than Queen Mary's gift of the gardens of the ancient monastery, though 
even were it otherwise, it would not be conclusive, as the royal grant was in all probability 
only an extension of an ancient burial-ground attached to the monastery in the Grass- 
market. It is mentioned almost immediately thereafter as a place of burial during the 
dreadful plague of 1568, when a huge pit is ordered to be dug in the " Greyfriars' Kirk- 
zaird." Bailie Macmorran's monument is, we believe, the only one in the old cemetery 
which dates so early as the sixteenth century ; we are therefore forced to conclude that, 
in the same spirit that led to the abandonment of St Giles's burial-ground, its ancient 
monuments were converted to a similar purpose with the old chapel of the Holy Rood, 
that stood in the lower yard. 

A few of the most important changes that have taken place on this interesting spot, in 
the heart of the ancient capital, arranged in the order of their occurrence, will best illustrate 
the rapidity with which it passed through successive transitions. In the year 1496, the 
provost of St Giles's Church granted to the citizens the northern part of his manse, with 
the glebe, for augmenting the cemetery. In 1528 Walter Chepman, the celebrated 
printer, founded and endowed a chaplainry in the chapel of the Holy Rood, in the nether 
kirkyard; in 1559 the chapel was demolished and left in ruins; and in 1562 its materials 
helped to build a new Tolbooth at the north-west corner of the churchyard. On the 
Protestant clergy being finally established in the stead of their Catholic predecessors, the 
prebendal buildings became the residence of the town ministers, and thither, in the year 
1 580, the nucleus of the present University Library was removed, until a suitable building 
should be procured for it. From this clerical college the ministers were ejected in 1597 
by the incensed King, who trusted thereby to weaken their power and influence, by com- 
pelling them to live apart from one another. The substantial forfeit thus wrung from the 
reclaiming clergy seems to have been regarded by him as a peculiarly acceptable trophy ; 
no doubt, in part at least, from the evidence it furnished of his having come off victorious 
in a contest with those who, until then, had always proved his most untractable opponents. 

1 Ante, p. 83. 

2 Probably the annals of no other town could exhibit the same indifference to its ancient cemeteries, which even the 
rude Indian holds sacred. Before the Reformation there were the Blackfriars kirkyard, where the Surgical Hospital 
or old High School stands ; the Kirk of Field, now occupied by the College, Trinity College, Holyrood Abbey, St 
Roque's and St Leonard's kirkyards. lu all these places human bones are still found on digging to any depth. In this 
reapect Edinburgh exhibits a striking contrast to the more crowded English capital. 

3 Chainbers's Traditions, vol. ii. p. 196. 4 " Statuts for the Pest.," Maitland, p. 32. 


He particularly manifested his satisfaction during the following year, when the ejected 
ministers had been allowed to return to their pulpits. " All this winter the King and Queen 
remained in the Abbey, and came up to the toun sindrie tymes ; dynned and supped in the 
ministers' houses behind the kirk. For the King keeped their houses in his owne hand, how- 
be it they were restored to their generall ministrie in Edinburgh." To resume our chrono- 
logical sketch: in the year 1617, on the return of King James to his Scottish capital, the 
old churchyard had so entirely lost all traces of its original character that it was selected 
as the scene of a magnificent civic banquet, with which the magistrates welcomed him back 
to his native city. The ministers appear to have been restored after a time to their manses 
in the kirkyard, but this was only by sufferance, and during the royal will ; for in 1632 
the ancient collegiate buildings were at length entirely demolished, to make way for the 
Parliament House, which occupies their site. On the 14th of August 1656 General 
Monck was feasted in the great hall, along with Lord Broghall, President of the Council, 
and all the councillors of state, and officers of the army. " This feast," says Nicoll, 
" wes geviu by the toun of Edinburgh, with great solempnitie, within the Parliament Hous, 
ritchlie hung for that end. The haill pryme men, and such of thair followeris as wer in 
respect, wer all resavit burgessis, and thair burges tickettis delyverit to thame." The 
Duke of York, afterwards James VII., was feasted by the city within the same old hall, 
on his arrival in Edinburgh in the year 1680, along with his Duchess, and the Lady Anne, 
who afterwards succeeded to the throne. In 1685 the equestrian statue of King Charles 
was erected, almost above the grave of John Knox ; and without extending too minutely 
these more striking data, we may remind the reader, that the same hall in which the Duke 
of York was entertained in 1680, was the scene of the magnificent banquet with which the 
next royal visitor was welcomed in 1822. 8 The open area was at length enclosed with 
buildings, at first only low booths, but these were soon after succeeded by the loftiest 
private buildings ever reared in this, or probably any other town. In 1676, a consider- 
able portion of the new buildings were destroyed .by fire. Another conflagration succeeded 
this in 1700, known by the name of the " Great Fire," which swept the whole magnificent 
range of buildings to the ground, and these were only re-erected to experience a third 
time the same fate in the year 1824. On the last destruction of the eastern and larger 
half of the old Parliament Close, the statue of King Charles was carted off to the Calton 
Jail, where his Majesty lay incarcerated for several years, until the complete remodelling 
of the whole locality, when he was elevated anew on a handsome pedestal, in which two 
marble tablets have been inserted, found among some lumber in the rooms below the 
Parliament House, and containing an inscription evidently prepared for the former 

1 Calderwood's Hist., vol. v. p. 673. * Nicoll's Diary, p. 183. 

3 The following curious remarks appear in a communication to the Caledonian Mercury, December 22d, 1788 : "It 
is somewhat remarkable that the last public dinner that was given in the Parliament House here was to King James 
VII., then Duke of York, at which was present the Lady Anne, afterwards Queen Anne; and that the next dinner 
that should be given in the same place viz., this day should be by the Revolution Club, in commemoration of 
his expulsion from the throne ! The dinner was given by the Magistrates of Edinburgh. The whole Court of Scot- 
land, and a numerous train of noblemen, with the Duke, were present. And the outer hall of the Parliament. House 
was thrown into one room upon the occasion. dinner cost the city above 1400 sterling. Sir James Dick, 
the then Lord Provost, presided (as the present will do this day). The Duke of York, and all the noblemen who 
were with him, were presented with the freedom of the city. The drink-money to the Duke's servants amounted to 
220 sterling." 


pedestal. Its panegyric we suspect had proved too fulsome even for the sycophantish 
period in which the statue was erected ; but it now forms the most interesting, and we 
may add amusing, feature of this old monument of civic royalty. 1 

A view is given of the new Parliament House at page 99, as it appeared when first 
erected, standing disengaged from all other buildings, with an open area to the east and 
south. The same isolated position is shown in the bird's-eye view in Gordon's map of 
1648, where the ground slopes down in open terraces from the Parliament Close to the 
Cowgate ; but the value of this central spot through which the nobles, judges, and magis- 
trates, and all their numerous attendants and solicitors, were daily passing, soon led to 
its selection as a convenient site for building. So early as 1628 the southern side of the 
church walls had been concealed by krames and booths stuck on between every buttress 
and angle; and about the year 1663 the open ground was let out by the magistrates for 
the purpose of erecting small shops. These were succeeded, in 1685, as appeared from 
the date on one of the lands, by the loftiest buildings existing in the Old Town, which 
towered in their southern elevation to the height of fifteen stories, and converted the once 
solitary churchyard into the busiest and most populous nook of the ancient capital. 

We have examined a set of original documents, 2 relating to a judicial sale of the pro- 
perty in the Parliament Close, drawn up in the year 1698, which furnish some curious 
and minute information as to the extent and occupation of the old lands, and introduce 
the names of citizens of note and influence at the period, as concerned in the various 
transactions. " My Lord Fountainhall, George Warrender, ane of the present bailies," 
ancestor of the Baronets of that name, " George Home, merchant, and now Provost," 
and others,- appear as creditors and trustees. 3 A few extracts will furnish a peep into the 
domestic arrangements of the fashionable residenters in the Parliament Close towards the 
close of the seventeenth century. Sir George Campbell of Cessnock, ancestor of the 
Earls of Marchmont, occupied a lodging on the fourth story above the close, " entering 
by the scale stair from the Parliament Close and Kirk-heugh," at a yearly rent of five 
hundred and fifty merks Scots, and " consisting of seven fire rooms, and a closet with 
aue fire ! " and above him was Sir William Binning of Wallyford, in the fifth story, with 
equal accommodation, at a somewhat lower rental. 

In the next scale stair entering from the close, " The Lord Mersington " is mentioned 
as occupying a house of eight fire rooms and a cellar on the fifth floor, at the rent of two 
hundred pounds Scots. Alexander Swinton, who assumed this title on his elevation to 
the Bench in 1688, is a character of some note among our older citizens. So zealous 

1 A correspondent of the Caledonian Mercury, Nov. 10th, 1788, who dates from St Bernard's (Walter Ross, Esq., 
we presume), supplies some interesting facts regarding this monument: "The statue of Charles II., placed on the spot 
intended for that of Cromwell, and superior to everything of the kind in Britain, is said by Maitland to have been 
erected at the expense of the citizens. If he means that it was by a contribution for the purpose, it is a mistake. The 
statue was placed by the Magistrates and Council. In the accounts of George Drummond, the town treasurer, in 1684-5, 
he charges 2580 Scots (215 sterling), the contents of a bill of exchange drawn by ' James Smith upou him, for the 
price of King Charles II., his statue,' The bill seems to have come from Rotterdam." 

2 In the possession of David Laing, Esq , Signet Library. 

8 The property is thus described : "All and haill these great lodgings, duelling houses, shops, vaults, sellars, and 
pertinents of the same, lying within the brugh of Hdinburgh, betwixt the King's High Street therein, called the Cow- 
giite, on the south, the Vennel commonly called the Kirk-heugh, and the tenement of land belonging to me, the said 
Thomas Robertson, on the east; the Parliament Gloss on the north, and the Parliament House, and little yard belong- 
ing to the same, and the void commonly called the Leather Mercatt on the west parts," &c. 


was he iu his attachment to Presbyterianism, that lie relinquished his profession as an 
advocate in 1681 rather than take the Test. Nevertheless, he learned soon after to hold 
the favour of royalty in greater esteem. By a special dispensation from the King he 
was restored to his rank as an advocate ; and on the removal of Lord Edmonston from 
the Bench, in consequence of his opposition to the royal inclinations in one of his votes 
as a judge, Swinton, the once resolute declaimer against the encroachments of royalty, 
was selected as the most pliant successor that could be found. The poor King, James 
VII, displayed at all times little judgment in the choice of his friends, and in this case 
his selection appears to have been peculiarly unfortunate. The Revolution ensued 
immediately after Swinton's elevation to the Bench, and if Lord Balcarras's account is 
to be believed, the new judge took a leading share in some of the strangest proceedings 
that followed. The mob signalised the dethronement of the King by an assault on the 
Abbey Chapel, in which several of them were killed and wounded by the guard who were 
stationed to defend it. On the following day Lord Mersington headed a rabble, accom- 
panied by the Provost and Magistrates, and renewed the attack on Captain AVallace 
and his men. The guards were speedily put to flight, and my lord and the rest of the 
rioters completely gutted the chapel, which had been fitted up in the most gorgeous and 
costly style. Balcarras styles Lord Mersington " the fanatical judge," and, according 
to his description, he figures on the occasion girt with a broad buif-belt, with " a halbert 
in his hand, and as drunk as ale and brandy could make him." He was the only 
judge on the Bench at the Revolution that was reappoiuted by the new govern- 

On the third floor in the eastern turnpike of the back land, Sir David Home, Lord 
Crossrig, resided, one of the first judges nominated after the Revolution, and shortly 
afterwards knighted by King "William. The judicial report of tenants and valuations 
exhibits a curious assemblage of occupants, from the renters of garrets, and laigh houses 
" beneath the grund," at the annual rate of twelve pound Scots, to my Lord Crossrig, who 
pays three hundred pounds Scots for his flat, and share of the common stair ! The Laird 
of Merchistoun, Lady Hartfield, Sir James Mackenzie, Sir Patrick Aikenhead, Commissar 
Clerk, Lady Harviston, Lady Colston, with Bailies, Merchants, and humble craftsmen, all 
figure in the impartial articles of sale ; sharing together at their several elevations, above 
and below ground, the numerous lodgings of this populous neighbourhood. 

While the sale of this property was going on, the " Great Fire " suddenly took place, 
and made a settlement of all valuations and purchases by reducing the whole lofty 
range to a heap of ruins. " The fire broke out in the lodgeing immediately under the 
Lord Crossrig' s lodgeing, in the Meal Mercat of Edinburgh, while part of his family 
were in bed, and his Lordship going to bed ; and the allarum was so sudden, that 
he was forced to retire in his night cloaths, with his children half naked; and that when 
people were sent into his closet to help out with his cabinet and papers, the smoke was 

1 Brunton & Haig's Senators of the College of Justice, p. 432. In contrast to this account, we may add the 
notice of his death, by Sir James Stewart, Lord Advocate, in a letter to Carstairs. " On Tuesday last the Lord 
Mersington dined well with a friend in the Merse, and went well to bed, but was found dead before four iu the morn- 
ing, his lady in bed with him, who knew nothing of his (lying. A warning stroke. He was a good man. and ia much 


so thick that they only got out a small cabinet with great difficulty. But albeit, his 
papers were lying on the floor, or hung about the walls of his closet in pocks, yet they 
durst not stay to gather them up, or take them, though they were desired to do it, so 
that that cabinet, and Alexander Christie, his servant's lettron, which stood near the 
door of Jus lodging, with some few other things, was all that was got saved, and the rest, 
even to his Lordship's wearing cloths, were burnt." 1 A very lively and graphic account 
of this conflagration or " epitome of dissolution," as it is' there styled, is furnished 
in a letter written at the time of its occurrence by the celebrated Duncan Forbes of 
Culloden, to his brother Colonel Forbes, wherein Lord Crossrig figures in a special 
manner. It is dated " Edinburgh, 6th February 1700," and thus describes the event: 
" Upon Saturday's night, by ten a clock, a fyre burst out in Mr John Buchan's closet 
window, towards the Meall Mercate. It continued whill eleven a clock of the day, with 
the greatest frayor and vehemency that ever I saw fyre do, notwithstanding that I saw 
London burue. Ther are burnt, by the easiest computation, betwixt 3 and 400 familys ; 
all the pryde of Eden r is sunk ; from the Cowgate to the High Street all is burnt, and 
hardly one stone left upon another. The Commissioner, President of the Parl*, Pres* of 
the Session, the Bank, most of the Lords, Lawyers, and Clerks, were all burnt, and 
many good and great familys. It is said just now, by S r John Cochran, and Jordan- 
hill, that ther is more rent burnt in this fyre than the whole city of Glasgow will amount 
to. The Parliament House very hardly escapt ; all Registers confounded ; Clerks 
Chambers, and processes, in such a confusion, that the Lords and Officers of State are 
just now mett at Rosse's Taverne, in order to adjourneing of the Sessione by reason of 
the dissorder. Few people are lost, if any att all ; but ther was neither heart nor hand 
left amongst them for saveing from the fyre, nor a drop of water in the cisternes ; twenty 
thousand hands flitting ther trash they know not wher, and hardly twenty at work. 
These babells, of ten and fourteen story high, are down to the ground, and ther fall 's 
very terrible. Many rueful spectacles, such as Corserig naked, with a child under his 
oxter, happing for his lyffe ; the Fish Mercate, and all from the Cow Gate to Pett Street's 
Close, burnt ; The Exchange, waults, and coal cellars under the Parliament Close, are 
still burneing." 1 

Among other renters of the numerous lodgings into which the lofty old lands were 
divided, the Faculty of Advocates are named as occupying one in " the Exchange Stairs " 
for their library, at the yearly rent of two hundred and forty pounds Scots. Within this 
the nucleus of the valuable library now possessed by them had been formed, on the 
scheme suggested by its founder, Sir George Mackenzie, " that noble wit of Scotland," 
as Dryden terms him, whose name, while it wins the respect of the learned, is still 
coupled among the Scottish peasantry with that of " the bluidy Clavers'," and mentioned 
only with execrations, for the share he took, as Lord Advocate, in the persecution of the 
Covenanters, during the reign of Charles II. Under his direction and influence the fines 

1 Act. Parl. vol. x. p. 284. 

2 Culloden Papers, p. 27. In a pasquinade in Wodrow's Collections, purporting to be "A Letter from the 
Ghost of Sir William Austruther of that ilk, once senatour of the Colledge of Justice," to his former colleagues, 
and dated, " Eli/sian Fields, 27 January 1711," the Lord Crossrig and E. Lauderdale are the only Lords of Session he 
meets with "in the agreeable aboads," a compliment to the former somewhat marred by the known character of his 



of recusant members were set apart for the formation of a library, and a few years after- 
wards their collection was greatly augmented by a gift of rare and costly books from 
William, first Duke of Queensberry. 

The Great Fire which we have described scattered and nearly destroyed the accumula- 
tion of twenty years, and had it not been for the strenuous exertions of the keeper, Mi- 
John Stevenson, advocate, not one of the books would have been saved. The result, 
however, was the removal of the library to safer and more permanent quarters below the 
Parliament House, where it has ever since continued, though with extensive additions, 
corresponding both in dimensions and style to its increasing importance. These lower 
apartments, dark and gloomy as they now look, when contrasted with the magnificent 
libraries that have been erected above, are associated with names of no mean note m 
Scottish literature. There Thomas Euddiman and David Hume successively presided in 
the office of keeper, which post was also filled by Dr Irvine, the biographer of Buchanan, 
and author of the " Lives of Scottish Poets ; " and within the same hall Dr Johnson was 
received by some of the most eminent men of the last century, during his visit to Edin- 
burgh in 1773. 

The creditors, who were baulked of their expected returns in the very midst of their 
exertions, appear, from the documents already referred to, to have proceeded immediately 
after the fire to dispose of the sites. In the accounts consequent on these latter transac- 
tions, new characters appear, and among the rest Eobert Mylne, the royal Master Mason, 
who is due, " for the area of the houses in the Parliament Closs," a sum thus imposingly 
rendered in Scots money, 00,600, OOs. Od. No time appears to have been lost in re- 
building the houses unexpectedly demolished. The Royal Exchange, which bore its name 
cut in bold relief over the doorway, had on it the date 1700, and the adjacent buildings 
towered again to an altitude of twelve stories towards the south, maintaining their pre- 
eminence as the loftiest lands in Edinburgh. On the east side an open piazza, decorated 
with pilasters and a Doric entablature, formed a covered walk for pedestrians, and the 
whole produced a stately and imposing effect. The aristocratic denizens of the former 
buildings returned again to the accommodation provided for them in the Parliament 
Close, and with them, too, came the renters of laigh stories and garrets, to complete 
the motley population of the lands, as they were then subdivided in the Old Town 
of Edinburgh. An amusing illustration of this is furnished in the trial, to which we 
have already frequently referred, of William Maclauchlane, for his share in the Porteous 
mob. He was footman to the Countess of Wemyss, who resided in a fashionable 
flat in the Parliament Close, and on the forenoon of the eventful 7th of September 
1736, he was despatched on an errand to Craigiehall, from whence he did not return 
till the evening. The libel of his Majesty's Advocate sets forth, that having delivered 
his message, " the pannel went from my Lady Wemyss' house to John Lamb's alehouse 
in the same stair," from whence he issued shortly after in a jovial state, attracting every- 
body's notice by his showy livery during the stirring scenes of that busy night, in which 
he mingled, perfectly oblivious of all that was being enacted around him, and running a 
very narrow risk of being made the scapegoat of the imbecile magistracy, who only wanted 
a decent pretext for sacrificing a score of blackguards to the manes of Porteous, and the 
wrath of Queen Caroline. 



rest ?dT* ^edge-hammers thundering on the old Tolbooth door, and when the 

.r ** rCprcSGDtfttlOU of $Q StllTlDo* SC6DGS of flip T* f 

mob, and having- duly broken into >,,- . orteous 

in^Tf :r ate r rt ; f lastcentury ' and down * the * * nd. 

"' 1 

Chambers's Traditions, vol. ii. p. 204. 



Oil the south side of the Parliament Close, near to John's Coffeehouse, was the bank- 
ing-house established by Sir William Forbes, the well-known author of the " Life of Dr 
Beattie," as well as of other works, and one of the most benevolent and public-spirited 
citizens of whom Edinburgh ever had to boast. Though descended from the ancient 
Lords Pitsligo, attainted for their fidelity to the Stuarts, he commenced life as an 
apprentice with the noted bankers, Messrs Coutts, and on their final establishment, in 
London, he founded the banking company so long known by his name. 1 So successful 
was he in life, that he accomplished his long-cherished purpose of recovering the 
attainted estates of the Barony of Pitsligo, which are now possessed by his descendants. 
Adjoining the banking-house of this eminent citizen, Kay, the ingenious delineator of 

the " Edinburgh Characters," kept the small print-shop 
where he vended his portraits and caricatures during nearly 
the whole of his career as an artist. His windows were 
always filled with his newest etchings, and formed a centre 
of attraction to the numerous loungers of the close, 
some of the most noted among whom both lawyers and 
clients were the frequent subjects of his pencil. An 
ancient thoroughfare led from the centre of this range 
of buildings to the Cowgate by a broad flight of steps, 
latterly called the Back Stairs, of which we furnish a 
view, showing the original state of the great south window 
of the Parliament Hall. It is occasionally called by 
writers of last century the New Stairs, but a passage of 
some kind undoubtedly led through the nether kirkyard 
to the Cowgate at an early period, affording ready ac- 
cess from that fashionable suburb, to the collegiate church 
of St Giles's, and the centre of the High Town. For 
this the Parliament Stairs were probably substituted 
about 1636, and continued from that time to form a con- 
venient communication between the High Street and 

the Cowgate, until their recent demolition to make way for the new Court 

The booths which disfigured the old cathedral front, forming the north side of the close, 
have already been mentioned \ these were almost exclusively occupied by the goldsmiths, 
whose hall was attached to the Parliament House, where the lobby of the Signet Library 
now stands. Chambers furnishes in his " Traditions" an. amusing picture of the expectant 
rustic bridegroom's visit to the Parliament Close, on the eve of his marriage, in order to 
provide those indispensable household gear, the silver-spunes. On such occasions it was 
usual for the goldsmith to adjourn with his customer to John's Coffeehouse, to receive 
the order over a caup of ale or a dram, when the goldsmith was perhaps let into the 
whole secret counsels of the rustic, including a history of his courtship, in return 
for which he sought to astonish his customer with the most recent marvels of city 
news. The spunes, however, we rather think, form, according to old-established 

1 Now incorporated with other banking companies under the name of the Union Bank of Scotland. 


custom, part of the bride's plenishing ; l but the brooch aud wedding-ring no doubt 
demanded a similar errand to the goldsmiths' booths, and would form a still readier 
introduction to the whole secrets of courtship. On such occasions- the customer paid 
for the refreshments when giving the order, and the trader returned the compliment on 
his second visit to receive and pay for the goods, which were then rarely to be found on 
hand ready for sale. 

The external appearance of the old Parliament House has been rendered familiar to 
thousands who never saw it in its original state by the view of it on the notes of Sir 
William Forbes and Co.'s Bank. Tradition pointed to Inigo Jones as the designer, 
not without some confirmation from its general style. It was no model of architectural 
beauty certainly, yet it presented a highly picturesque appearance and individuality 
of character, which, with its thorough accordance with the age in which it was erected, 
ought to have secured the careful preservation of its antique turrets and sculptures, 
as a national monument associated with great historical events. There was a quaint 
stateliness about its irregular pinnacles and towers, and the rude elaborateness of its 
decorations, that seemed to link it with the courtiers of Holyrood, in the times of the 
Charleses, and its last gala days under the Duke of York's vice-regency. Nothing can 
possibly be conceived more meaningless and utterly absurd than the thing that super- 
seded it. The demolition of the adjoining buildings, and the extension of the Court 
Houses, so as to make the older part form only a subsidiary wing of the whole, have 
given some consistency to what is, at best, a very commonplace design ; but the original 
screen of stone, now forming the west wing of the Court Houses, which was built to hide 
the antique fa?ade of 1636, had neither relation to the building it was attached to, nor 
meaning of its own. 

Over the main entrance of the old fabric were the royal arms of Scotland, boldly sculp- 
tured, supported on the right by Mercy holding a crown wreathed with laurel, and on the 
left by Justice having the balance in one hand, and a palm-branch in the other, with the 
appropriate inscription, Stant his felicia regna, and immediately underneath the national 
arms this motto, Uni unionum. This entrance, which stood facing the east, is now com- 
pletely blocked up. Over the smaller doorway which forms the present main access to the 
Parliament Hall, the city arms occupied an ornamental tablet, placed between two sculp- 
tured obelisks, and underneath this inscription, on a festooned scroll, Dominus custodit 
introitum nostrum. The general effect of the whole will be best understood by a refer- 
ence to the view on page 99. 

An amusing anecdote is told of one of the old frequenters of the Parliament Close, 
regarding the ancient doorway we have described. James Robertson, Esq. of Kincraigie, 
an insane Jacobite laird, on being pressed on one occasion by the Honourable Henry 
Erskine to accompany him into the Parliament House, somewhat abruptly declined the 
invitation, " But I '11 tell you what, Harry," added he, pointing to the statue that 
stood over the porch, " tak' in Justice wi' ye, for she has stood lang at the door, and 

1 We have the authority of an experienced matron for the following as a complete inventory of the bride's plenishing, 
according to old Scottish notions, and which is often still regarded as indispensable : 1. A chest of drawers, "split new," 
and ordered for the occasion ; 2. Bed and table linen, or naiprie, as it is styled, with a supply of blankets ; 3. The 
silver spoons ; and, in some districts, 4. An eight-day clock. But the sine qwd non of all was 5. A LADLE ! 


it wad be a treat for her to see the inside like other strangers ! " The renovators of 
the old hall seem to have taken the daft laird's hint, Justice has vanished from the 
porch, to reappear in a most gaudy and tasteless fashion in the painted glass of the 
great window. 1 An incident, however, in connection with the fate of these ancient 
warders of the Parliament porch, will best illustrate the taste of its beautifiers. Shortly 
after the modernisation of the old front, the late Bailie Henderson observed a cart 
conveying along the South Bridge a load of carved stones, among which the statues of 
Justice and Mercy formed the most prominent objects. On inquiring at the carter as to 
their destination, he learned that one of the Professors, who kept a Polar bear, had 
applied to the Magistrates for stones to erect a bear's house within the College quad- 
rangle, and he accordingly obtained a gift of these old rubbish for the purpose. The 
Bailie gave the carter a fee to turn his horse's head, and deposit them at his own villa near 
Trinity, from whence he sent him back with his cart full of stones equally well adapted 
for the Professor's bear's house. On the death of Bailie Henderson, the statues, along 
with other ornamental portions of the old building, were procured by A. Gr. Ellis, Esq., in 
whose possession they now are. 

The great hall measures 122 feet long, by 40 broad, and although its windows have 
recently been altered, its curious, open-timbered oak roof remains, springing from a 
series of grotesquely sculptured corbels of various designs. Long after it had been for- 
saken by the Scottish Estates it retained the high throne at its southern end, where the 
Sovereign, or his Commissioner, was wont to preside over their deliberations, and on 
either side a range of benches for the nobles and barons, with lower ones in the centre 
for the Commissioners of Burghs, the Scottish Estates having formed to the last only 
one deliberative assembly. Without this area a pulpit was erected for sermons to the 
Parliament, the same, we believe, that is now preserved in the Museum of the Society 
of Antiquaries under the name of " John Knox's pulpit." Along the walls there hung 
a series of portraits of sovereigns and eminent statesmen, including paintings by 
Sir Godfrey Kneller ; but some of these were the first of its decorations that disappeared, 
having, it is said, been bestowed by Queen Anne on her Secretary, the Earl of Mar. 2 
Others, however, of these paintings adorned the walls, and are now, we believe, 
among the miscellaneous collection at Holyrood House. Portions also of early deco- 
rations, including fragments of ancient tapestry, were only removed in the latter end 
of last century, the same hangings, in all probability, as were put up during the Pro- 
tectorate. Nicoll tells us, " The Preses and the remanent memberis of the great counsall 
did caus alter much of the Parliament Hous, and did cans hing the Over hous with riche 
hingeris, in September 1655, and removit these roumes thairintill appoyntit for 
passing of the billis, and signeting of letters. So wes also the Lower Hous, diligatlie 
hung." 8 Nor should we omit to mention the Creed and Ten Commandments, once so 

1 In 1868, this window was replaced by a magnificent stained one, representing the inauguration of the College of 
Justice, or the Supreme Court of Scotland, by King James V., in 1532. 

* Minor Antiquities, p. 187. The following are mentioned in Brown's " Stranger's Guide," for 1820 : " The outer 
hall is ornamented by full length portraits of King William III., Queen Mary, his consort, and Queen Anne, all done 
by Sir Godfrey Kneller ; also of George I., John Duke of Argyle, and Archibald Duke of Argyle, by Mr Aikman of 

3 Nicoll's Diary, p. 216. 


appropriately suspended on the walls, and mentioned in a MS. volume of last century, 
I,H " taken down when the Court was repaired." l These ancient decorations have since 
been replaced by statues of Duncan Forbes of Culloden, Lord President Blair, son of 
the poet, Lord Melville, Lord Chief Baron Dundas, Lord Jeffrey, Lord President Boyle, 
Lord Cockburn, &c. ; and by portraits of Lord Abercromby, Professor Bell, Lord 
1'rougham, Lord Justice-Clerk Hope, Lord Colonsay, &c. There are also specimens by 
the celebrated Jamesone, the earliest Scottish painter, who studied under Rubens at 
Antwerp. This great hall is now used as a waiting-room and promenade by the advo- 
cates and the various other practitioners connected with the Supreme Courts, and during 
the sitting of the courts presents a very attractive and animated scene. 

To a stranger visiting the Scottish capital, no one of its public buildings is so 
calculated to excite a lively interest as the scene of its latest legislative assemblies ; for 
while it shares with the deserted palace, and the degraded mansions of the Old Town, in 
many grand and stirring associations, it still forms the Hall of the College of Justice, 
founded by James V., at once the arena of the leading Scottish nobles and statesmen 
of the last two centuries, and the scene of action of many of the most eminent men of 
our own day. 

Beneath the old roof, thus consecrated by sacred historic memories, the first great 
movements of the civil war took place, and the successive steps in that eventful crisis 
were debated with a zeal commensurate to the important results involved in them, and 
with as fiery ardour as characterised the bloody struggles which they heralded. Here 
Montrose united with Rothes, Lindsay, Loudon, and others of the Covenanting leaders, 
in maturing the bold measures that formed the basis of our national liberties ; and 
within the same hall, only a few years later, he sat with the calmness of despair, to 
receive from the lips of his old compatriot, Loudon, the barbarous sentence which was 
executed with such savage rigour. 

When the fatal overthrow of the Scottish army at Dunbar at length laid the capital at 
the mercy of Cromwell, new scenes were enacted within the Parliament House " witness 
sindry Englisch trouperis quha oppinlie taught there." 2 If Pinkerton 3 is to be believed, 
even the General, Cromwell himself, occasionally laid aside the temporal for the spiritual 
sword, within the same august arena, to the great scandal of the Presbyterian citizens, 
who were horrified to find that " men war not aschamed to tak upone thame the functione 
of the ministrie, without a lauchfull calling." But while such novelties were being 
enacted in the great hall, " the laich Parliament Hous " was crowded with Scottish 
prisoners, and the building strictly guarded by bands of the same English troopers, 
equally ready to relieve guard on the outer parade, or to take their turn within, where 

Pulpit drum Ecclesiastic 
Was beat with fist instead of a stick. 

The Scottish strongholds, however, proved insufficient for the detention of their old 
masters, under the care of foreign jailers. On the 17th of May 1654, the whole number 
of prisoners in the " laich Parliament House," effected their escape by cutting a hole in 
the floor of the great hall above, and all but two got clear off. Only ten days afterwards, 

1 Supplement to Court of Session Garland, p. 4. s Nicdl's Diary, p. 94. 3 Ante, p. 96. 


Lord Kiunoull and several other prisoners were equally successful in getting out of the 
castle, by letting themselves down over the rock with their sheets and blankets cut into 
strips ; and others confined in the Canongate Tolbooth effected, by like means, a similar 
jail delivery for themselves. 1 When a better understanding had been established between 
the Protector and his Scottish subjects, the old hall was restored to more legitimate uses. 
There, in the following year, General Mouck and the leaders of the Commonwealth were 
feasted with lavish hospitality, and the courts of law resumed their sittings, with an 
honest regard for justice scarcely known in Scotland before. 

Then came the " glorious Restoration," under the auspices of the once republican 
general ; and the vice-regent and royal commissioner, the Duke of York, was feasted 
with his fair princess and daughter, attended by the beauty and chivalry of Scotland, 
anxious to efface all memory of former doing in the same place. But sad as was the 
scene of Scotland's children held captive in her own capital by English jailers, darker 
times were heralded by this vice-regal banquet, when the Duke presided, along with 
Dalziell and Claverhouse, in the same place, to try by torture the passive heroism of the 
confessors of the Covenant, and the astute lawyer, Sir George Mackenzie, played the part 
of king's advocate with such zeal, as has won him the popular title which still survives 
all others, of " Bluidy Mackenzie." The lower rooms, that have so long been dedicated 
to the calm seclusion of literary study, are the same that witnessed the noble, the 
enthusiastic, and despairing, alike prostrate at the feet of tyrants, or subjected to 
cruel tortures by their merciless award. There Guthrie and Argyll received the barbarous 
sentence of their personal enemies without form of trial, and hundreds of less note 
courageously endured the fury of their persecutors, while Mercy and Justice tarried at the 

A glimpse at the procedure of this Scottish Star Chamber, furnished by Fountainhall, 
in his account of the trial of six men in October 1681, " on account of their religion and 
fanaticism," may suffice for a key to the justice administered there. Garnock, one of 
the prisoners, having railed at Dalziell in violent terms, " the General in a passion 
struck him with the pomel of his shable on the face, till the blood sprung." 2 With 
such men for judges, and thumbekins, boots, and other instruments of torture as the means 
of eliciting the evidence they desired, imagination will find it hard to exceed the horrors 
of this infamous tribunal. 

An interesting trial is mentioned by Fountainhall as having occurred in 1685. 3 Richard 
Rumbold, one of Cromwell's old Ironsides, was brought up, accused of being implicated in 
the Rye House Plot. He had defended himself so stoutly against great odds that he was 

1 The Scottish prisoners would seem to have been better acquainted with the secrets of their own strongholds than 
their English jailers. Nicoll remarks, " It was a thing admirable to considder how that the Scottis prissoneris being so 
cloelie keepit heir within the Castle of Edinburgh, and in the laich Parliament Hous, and within the Tolbuith of the 
Cannogait, and daylie and nychtlie attendit with a gaird of sodgeris, sould sa oft escaip imprissournent. And now laitlie, 
upone the 27 day of Maij 1654. being Settirday at miduicht, the Lord Kynnoull, the Laird of Lugtoun, ane callit Mar- 
schell, and another callit Hay, by the moyen of one of the Inglische centrie escapit furth of the Castell of Edinburgh, 
being lat doun be thair awin bedscheittis and blankettis, hardlie knut. All these four, with ane of the Inglische centrie, 
escapit. Thair was ane uther prettie gentill man, and a brave soclger, essaying to do the lyke, he, in his duungoing, fell 
and brak his neck, the knotis of the scheittis being maid waik by the former persoues wecht that past doun before him." 
Nicoll's Diary, p. 128. 

2 Fountainhall's Decisions, vol. i. p. 159. Ibid, vol. i. p. 365. 


only taken when completely disabled by wounds, and the court was hastily summoned to 
sit on the following morning, " that he might not preveen the public execution by his 
death." The evidence was found insufficient to convict him of a share in the Rye House 
Plot, and the king's advocate proceeded accordingly to lead other accusations of treason 
against him, among which he charged him as having been one of the masked execu- 
tioners who beheaded Charles I. He appears to have been a man of most resolute 
courage, and a determined republican ; he denied having been the king's executioner, but 
readily admitted that he was on guard at the scaffold as one of Cromwell's troopers, and 
that he had served as a lieutenant in his army at Dunbar, Worcester, and Dundee. 
" Being asked if he owned the present king's authority, he craved leave to be excused, 
seeing he need neither offend them nor grate his own conscience." He was executed 
the same afternoon, with peculiar barbarity, and his quarters sent to be exposed in 
some of the chief towns of Scotland, his head being reserved to grace the West Port of 
Edinburgh. But the day of retribution came at last ; the Prince of Orange landed in 
England, and the feeble representative of the Stuarts was the foremost to desert his own 
failing cause. From the close of 1688 till March 1689, when a Convention of the 
Scottish Estates was summoned to meet, Edinburgh was almost left to the government 
of the rabble. The sack of Holyrood, already described, completely established the 
superiority of the Presbyterian party, and they signalised their triumph by assaulting 
the houses of the wealthy Catholics who resided chiefly in the Canongate, which they 
" rabbled" as the phrase was, gutting and sometimes setting them on fire. When at length 
the Convention met, the adherents of the exiled king crowded to the capital in hopes 
of yet securing a majority in his favour. Dundee openly marched into the town with a 
train of sixty horse, while the Whigs with equal promptitude, but secretly, gathered an 
armed body of the persecuted Presbyterians, whom they concealed in garrets and cellars, 
ready to sally out at a concerted signal, and turn the scales in favour of their cause. 
The sumptuous old oaken roof of the Parliament Hall then witnessed as stirring scenes 
as ever occurred in the turbulent minorities of the Jameses within the more ancient 
Tolbooth. Dundee * arose in his place in the Convention, and demanded that all strangers 
should be commanded to quit the town, declaring his own life and those of others of the 
king's friends to be endangered by the presence of banded assassins. On his demand 
being rejected, he indignantly left the assembly ; and the Convention, with locked doors 
and the keys on the table before them, proceeded to judge the government of King 
James, and to pronounce his crown forfeited and his throne vacant, beneath the same 
roof where he had so often sat in judgment on the oppressed. Meanwhile Dundee 
was mustering his dragoons for the rising of the North j the affrighted citizens were 
beating to arms to pursue him, and the armed Covenanters sallying from their hiding- 
places to strike for liberty against the oppressor, on the same streets where they had not 
openly been seen for years, unless when dragged to torture and execution ; while the 
Convention sternly bent themselves to the great question at issue, expecting every moment 
that the Duke of Gordon would open a fire on them from the Castle guns, and compel 

1 A sort of compromise would seem to have been tacitly entered into with regard to this brave " persecutor." 
Dulziel and Mackenzie have been delivered up to unmitigated popular infamy, while the same censors still speak of the 
Klmdy Clovers and the Gallant Dundee, as though they had contrived to divorce his evil from his good qualities in 
order innocently to indulge their pride in the hero of Scottish song ! 


them to adjourn. It must be regarded as proving how thoroughly the cruel wrongs which 
the Scottish Covenanters had suffered at the hands of their persecutors during the reign 
of Charles II. were laid to the charge of the active agents in their execution, that the 
statue of that " Monarch of Misrule " survived the rabblements of this period, and still 
graces the area of the Parliament Close. 

The Old Parliament House witnessed thenceforth more legitimate scenes. The name 
that still survives all other memorials of the Scottish hierarchy, recalls the time when 
" the honours " of the kingdom were laid on the table, and the Lord High Commissioner 
occupied the throne as the representative of majesty, while the eloquent Belhaven, the 
astute and wary Lockhart, and the nervous Fletcher, pleaded for the ancient privileges 
of their country, and denounced the measure that was to close its Legislative Hall for 
ever. Many an ardent patriotic heart throbbed amid the dense crowd that daily assembled 
in the Parliament Close, to watch the decision of the Scottish Estates on the detested 
scheme of Union with England. Again and again its fate trembled in the balance, 
but, happily for Scotland, English bribes outweighed the mistaken zeal of Scottish 
patriotism and Jacobitism united against the measure. On the 25th March 1707, the 
Treaty of Union was ratified by the Estates, and on the 22d April following, the 
Parliament of Scotland adjourned, never again to assemble. The Lord Chancellor 
Seafield, the chief agent in this closing scene of our national legislature, exclaimed on 
its accomplishment, with heartless levity, " There is an end of an auld sang ; " but the 
people brooded over the act as a national indignity and wrong ; and the legitimate line 
of their old Scottish kings anew found favour in their eyes, and became the centre of 
hope to many who mourned over Scotland as a degraded province of her old southern 

Since then the ancient hall retains only such associations as belong to men eminent 
for learning, or high in reputation among the members of the College of Justice. Duncan 
Forbes, Lord Kames, Monboddo, Hume, Erskine, Mackenzie, and indeed nearly all the 
men of note in Scottish literature, if we except her divines, have formed a part of the 
busy throng that gave life and interest to Scotland's Westminster Hall. Our own genera- 
tion has witnessed there Cockburn, Brougham, Horner, Jeffrey, and Scott, sharing in the 
grave offices of the Court, or taking a part in the broad humour and wit for which the 
members of " the Faculty " are so celebrated ; and still the visitor to this learned and 
literary lounge cannot fail to be gratified in a high degree, while watching the different 
groups who gather in the Hall, and noting the lines of thought or humour, and the 
infinite variety of physiognomy, for which the wigged and gowned loiterers of the Law 
Courts are peculiarly famed. 

Among the more homely associations of the Old Parliament Close, the festivities of 
the King's birthday demand a special notice, as perhaps the most popular among the long- 
cherished customs of our ancestors, which the present generation has beheld gradually expire. 
It was usual on this annual festival to have a public repast in the Parliament Hall, where 
tables were laid out at the expense of the city, covered with wine and confections, and the 
magistrates, judges, and nearly all the chief citizens, assembled for what was styled " the 
drinking of the King's health." On the morning of this joyous holiday the statue of King 
Charles was gaily decorated with flowers by the "Auld Gallants" as the eleves of Heriot's 


Hospital are still termed, who claimed this office by long prescription, and their acknow- 
ledged skill in the art of loyal decoration, acquired in the annual custom of decking their 
own founder's statue. 1 This formed one of the chief attractions to the citizens through- 
out the day, as well as to their numerous rustic visitors who crowded into the capital 
on the occasion, to witness or share in the fun. Towards the afternoon the veteran 
corps of the city guard were called out to man the eastern entrance into the Parliament 
Close while the guests were assembling for the civic entertainment, and thereafter to 
draw up in front of the great hall, and announce with a volley to the capital at large each 
loyal toast of its assembled rulers. Never did forlorn hope undertake a more desperate 
duty ! The first volley of these unpopular guardians of civic order was the signal 
for a frenzied assault on them by the whole rabble of the town, commemorated in 
Ferguson's lively Address to the Muse on the " King's birthday." Dead dogs and cats, 
and every offensive missile that could be procured for the occasion, were now hurled 
at their devoted heads ; and when at last they received orders to march back again to their 
old citadel in the High Street, the strife became furious ; the rough old veterans dealt 
their blows right and left with musket and Lochaber axe wielded by no gentle hand, 
but their efforts were hopeless against the spirit and numbers of their enemies, and the 
retreat generally ended in an ignominious rout of the whole civic guard. All law, excepting 
mob law, was suspended during the rest of the evening, the windows of obnoxious citizens 
were broken, the effigies of the most unpopular public men frequently burnt, and for 
more than half a century, the notorious " Johnny Wilkes," the editor of the North Briton, 
and the favourite of the London apprentices, was annually burnt in effigy at the Cross 
and other prominent parts of the town an incremation which has lately altogether 
fallen into desuetude. 

Previous to the remodelling of the Parliament House, while yet the lofty lands of the 
old close reared their huge and massy piles of stone high above the neighbouring buildings, 
and the ancient church retained its venerable though somewhat dilapidated walls, the 
aspect of this quadrangle must have been peculiarly grand and imposing, and such as we 
shall look for in vain among the modern erections of the capital. It would be folly, how- 
ever, after recording so many changes that have passed over it at successive periods, to 
indulge in useless regrets that our own day has witnessed others as sweeping as any that 
preceded them, obliterating every feature of the past, and resigning it anew to the slow 
work of time to restore for other generations the hues of age that best comport with its 
august and venerable associations. We shall close our notice with the following extract 
from a local poem referring to the same interesting nook of the old Scottish capital : 

A scene of grave yet busy life 

Within the ancient city's very heart, 
Teeming with old historic memories, rife 

With a departed glory, stood apart. 
High o'er it rose St Giles's ancient tower 

Of curious fret work, whence the shadow falls, 
As the pale moonbeams through its arches pour, 

Tracing a shadowy crown upon the walls 

1 One of the graceful and innocent customs of earlier times, which was for sometime in abeyance, but is now happily 
again revived. 


Where Scotland's nobles sate, as if in scorn 

Or vain regret, o'er the deserted pile. 
For centuries its paving had been worn 

By courtiers, once unmatched in crafty guile, 
By many a baron bold, and lovely dame, 

And scions, too, of Scotland's royal line ; 
While, from beneath, preferred a worthier claim 

Names that with stern historic scenes entwine, 
And some whose memory time has failed to keep, 

Oblivious of the trust. Knox slumbers there, 
Mingling with border chiefs that stilly sleep ; 

And churl, and burgher bold, and haughty peer, 
With those a people wept for, sharing now 

The common lot, unhonoured and unknown. 
Strange wreck, o'er ruins in the dust below I 

Thrice desecrated burial-place ! The stone 
Where once were held in trust the noble dead 

'Neath grassy hillock and memorial urn, 
With requiem graven only by their tread, 

Whose steps forgotten generations spurn. 
But civic sycophants, a courtly tool, 

Bartered stone Cromwell for a Charles of lead, 
Ignoble meed for tyranny's misrule, 

To rear above the great dishonoured dead ! 
Fire, time, and modern taste, the worst of all, 

Have swept in ruthless zeal across the scene 
And the lead king and shadow on the wall, 

Alone survive of all that once has been. 



AWING to the peculiar site of the Scottish 
capital, no extension of the Old Town 
beyond its early limits has in any degree 
detracted from the importance of its most 
ancient thoroughfare, which extends under 
different names from the Palace to the 
Castle, and may be regarded as of antiquity 
coeval with the earliest fortifications of the 
citadel to which it leads. Alongside of this 
roadway, on the summit of the sloping ridge, 
the rude huts of the early Caledonians were 
constructed, and the first parish church of St 
Giles reared, so early, it is believed, as the 
ninth century. 1 Fynes Moryson, an English 
traveller, who visited Edinburgh in the year 
1598, thus describes it: " From the King's Pallace at the east, the city still riseth higher 
and higher towards the west, and consists especially of one broad and very faire street, 
which is the greatest part and sole ornament thereof, the rest of the side streetes and 
allies being of poore building, and inhabited with very poore people." We may add, how- 
ever, to his concluding remark, the more accurate observation of the eccentric traveller, 
Taylor, the water-poet, who visited the Scottish capital a few years later, and shows his 
greater familiarity with its internal features by describing " many by-lanes and closes on 
each side of the way, wherein are gentlemen's houses, much fairer than the buildings in the 
High Street, for in the High Street the merchants and tradesmen do well, but the gentle- 
men's mansions, and goodliest houses, are obscurely founded in the aforesaid lanes." 

The preceding chapter is chiefly devoted to some of the more ancient and peculiar 
features of this street. Yet strictly speaking, while every public thoroughfare is styled in 
older writs and charters " the King's High Street," the name was only exclusively applied 

1 Arnot, p. 268. 2 Itinerary, London, 1617. Bann. Mis. vol. ii. p. 393. 

VIGNETTE. Common Seal of the City of Edinburgh, from a charter dated A.D. 1565. Vide p. 73, for the 
Counter Seal. 


to that portion extending from the Nether Bow to Creech's Land, until the demolition of 
the middle row, when the Luckenbooths, and even a portion of the Lawnmarket, were 
assumed as part of it, and designated by the same name. 

Here was the battlefield of Scotland for centuries, whereon private and party feuds, the 
jealousies of the nobles and burgher?, and not a few of the contests between the Crown and 
the people, were settled at the point of the sword. In the year 1515 it was the scene of 
the bloody fray known by the name of " Cleanse the Causey," which did not terminate 
until the narrow field of contest was strewn with the dead bodies of the combatants, and 
the Earl of Arran and Cardinal Beaton narrowly escaped with their lives. 1 Other and 
scarcely less bloody affrays occurred during the reign of James V. on the same spot, 
while in that of his hapless daughter it was for years the chief scene of civil strife, where 
rival factions fought for mastery. In 1571 the King's Parliament, summoned by the 
Regent Lennox, assembled at the head of the Canongate, above St John's Cross, which 
bounded " the freedome of Edinburgh," while the Queen's Parliament sat in the Tolbooth, 
countenanced in their assumption of the Eoyal name by the presence of the ancient 
Scottish Regalia, the honours of the kingdom ; and the battle for Scotland's crown 
and liberties fiercely raged in the narrow space that intervened between these rival 

But the private feuds of the Scottish nobles and chiefs were the most frequent subjects 
of conflict on the High Street of the capital, and during the fifteenth and sixteenth 
centuries many a bold baron and hardy retainer perished there, adding fresh fuel to the 
deadly animosity of rival clans, but otherwise exciting no more notice at the time than 
an ordinary street squabble would now do. It was in one of these tulzies, alluded to in 
the " Lay of the Last Minstrel," that Sir Walter Scott of Buccleugh was slain, in the year 
1551, 2 

When the streets of High Dunedin, 
Saw lances gleam and falchions redden, 
And heard the slogan's deadly yell. 

Neither the accession of James VI., nor the attainment of his majority, exercised much 
influence in checking those encounters on the streets of the capital. " Many enormities were 
committed," says Calderwood, " as if there had beene no King in Israeli." The following 
may suffice as a sample : "Upon the seventh of Januar 1591, the King comming douu 
the street of Edinburgh from the Tolbuith, the Duke of Lennox, accompanied with the 
Lord Hume, following a little space behind, pulled out their swords, and invaded the 
Laird of Logie. The King fled into a closse-head, and incontinent retired to a Skinner's 
booth, where it is said he shook for feare." 3 The sole consequence of this lawless act of 
violence was the exclusion of the chief actors from court for a short time; and only six 
days thereafter the Earl of Bothwell deliberately took by force out of the Tolbooth the 
chief witness in a case then pending before the court, at the very time that the King was 

1 Ante, p. 37. 

2 "In thia zeir all wea at guid rest, exceptand the Laird of Cesfurde and Fernyhirst with thair complices 
slew Schir Walter Scott, laird of Balclewche, in Edinburgh, quha was ane valzeand guid knycht." Diurnal of Oc- 
currents, 1551, p. 51. 

8 Fide Calderwood, vol. v. p. 116, for a more particular account of royal mishaps in the close-head on this occa- 


sitting in the same building along with the Lords of Session. 1 The unfortunate witness 
was dragged by his captors to Crichton Castle, and there schooled into a more satisfactory 
opinion of the case in question, under the terror of the gallows. 

The ancient Cross which stood in the High Street has been frequently alluded to, and 
some of the most remarkable events described of which it was the scene. It was alike the 
theatre of festivals and executions ; garnished at one period with rich hangings, and flowing 
with wine for the free use of the populace, and at another overshadowed by the Maiden, and 
hung only with the reversed armorial bearings of some noble victim of law or tyranny.''' 
In the year 1617 it was rebuilt on a new site in the High Street, apparently with the 
view of widening the approach preparatory to the arrival of King James, in fulfilment of 
his long-promised visit to his native city. The King sent word at that time of " his 
naturall and salmon-like affection, and earnest desire," as he quaintly but very graphically 
expresses it, "to see his native and ancient kingdome of Scotland." Accordingly, as Calder- 
wood tells us in the very next sentence, " Upon the 26th of Februar, the Crosse of Edin- 
burgh was taken douu ; the old long stone, about fortie foots or therby in length, was 
translated, by the devise of certane mariners in Leith, from the place where it stoode past 
memorie of man, to a place beneath in the Highe Streete, without anie harme to the stone ; 
and the bodie of the old Crosse was demolished and another buildit, whereupon the long 
stone or obelisk was erected and sett upon the 25th of Marche." The long stone must 
have suffered injury since, but the fine Gothic capital, of which we have already given a 
view, is without doubt a relic of the most ancient Cross demolished at this period. Among 
the older customs of which this interesting fabric was the scene, no one is more curious 
than Ihe exposure of dyvours or bankrupts, a class of criminals at all times regarded with 
special indignation by their more fortunate fellow-citizens. The origin of this singular 
mode of protecting commercial credit is thus related in the Acts of Sederunt of the Court 
of Session for 1604: " The Lordis ordaiue the Provest, Bailleis, and Counsale of Edin- 
burgh, to cause big ane pillery of hewn stane, neir to the Mercat Croce of Edinburgh, 
upon the heid thereof ane sait and place to be maid, quhairupon, in tyme cuming, sail 
be set all dyvoris, wha sail sit thairon ane mercat day, from 10 hours in the morning 

1 "Anent walpynnis in Buithis. Item, it is statute and ordanit be the Provest, Bailies, and Counsall of this burgh, 
because of the greit slauchteris and utheris cummeris and tulzeis done in tyme bygane within the burgh, and apperendlie 
to be done gif ua remeid be provydit thairto ; and for eschewing thairof ; that ilk manner of peraone, merchandis, craftis- 
men, and all utheris occupyaris of buthis, or chalmeris in the hiegait, outher heych or laych, that thay have lang 
valpynnis thairin, sic as hand ex, Jedburgh staif, hawart jawalyng, and siclyk lang valpynnis, with knaipschawis and 
jakkis ; and that thay cum thairwith to the hie-gait incontinent efter the commoun bell rynging." Burgh Records, 
Mar. 4, 1552. 

s " Upoue Tysday the nyntene day of Junij 1660, eftir sennond endit, the Magistrates and Counsell of Edinburgh, all 
in thair best robis, with a great number of the citizens, went to the Mercat Croce of Edinburgh, quhair a great long boord 
wes covered with all soirtes of sweit meittis, and thair drank the kinges helth, and his brother; the spoutes of the Croce 
rynnand all that tyme with abundance of clareyt wyne. Ther wer thrie hundreth dosane of glassis all brokin and cassin 
throw the streitis, with sweit meitis in abundance," &c. Nicoll's Diary, p. 293. 

" Upone the 13 day of Maij 1661, Sir Archibald Johnnestoun of Warystoun, lait Clerk Register, being forfalt in this 
Parliament, and being fugitive fra the lawis of this Kingdome, for his treasonable actis, he was first oppinlie declairit 
traitour in face of Parliament, thaireftir, the Lord Lyon king at airmes, with four heraldis and sex trumpetteris, went to 
the Mercat Croce of Edinburgh, and thair maid publiet intimation of his forfaltrie and treason, rave asunder his airmes, 
and trampled thame under thair feet, and kuist a number of thame over the Croce, and affixt ane of thame upone the 
height of the great stane, to remayne thair to the publiet view of all beholderis. Thir airmes were croced bakward, his 
heid being put dounmest and his feet upmest." Ibid, p. 332. 

3 Calderwood, vol. vii. p. 243. 


quhill ane hour efter dinner ; and the saidis dyvoris, before thair libertie and cuining forth 
of the tolbuith, upon thair awn chairges, to cause mak and buy ane hat or bonnet of yellow 
colour, to be worn be tharne all the tyme of their sitting on the said pillery, and in all tyme 
thairefter, swa lang as they remane and abide dyvoris." 1 Sundry modifications of this 
singular act were afterwards adopted. In 1669 "The Lords declare that the habite is to 
be a coat and upper garment, which is to cover their cloaths, body and arms, whereof, the 
one half is to be of yellow, and the other half of a brown colour, and a cap or hood, which 
they are to wear on their head, party coloured, as said is," z coloured, as is enacted at a 
subsequent period, " conform to a pattern delivered to the magistrates of Edinburgh to 
be keeped in their Tolbooth." 8 The effect of such a custom, if revived in our day, amid 
the bustle and fever of railway schemes, and "bubble speculations" of all kinds, could 
not fail to exercise a very pleasing influence in diversifying the monotony of our unpic- 
turesque modern attire, and giving some variety to our assemblies and promenades ! How 
far commercial solvency would be promoted by the frequenters of the Stock Exchange being 
thus compelled to wear their credit on their sleeve, we must leave these shrewd speculators 
to determine at their leisure. Cowper, in his "Epistle to Joseph Hill, Esq.," discusses a 
somewhat analogous device, adopted by an Eastern sage, for distinguishing honest men from 
knaves, and which consisted in the convicted defaulter wearing only half a coat thereafter j 
but he adds for the comfort of all contemporaries : 

happy Britain ! we have not to fear 
Such hard and arbitrary measures here ; 
Else could a law, like that which I relate, 
Once have the sanction of our triple state, 
Some few, that I have known in days of old, 
Would run most dreadful risk of catching cold ! * 

In the steep and narrow closes that diverge on each side of the High Street, were once 
the dwellings of the old Scottish nobility, and still they retain interesting traces of faded 
grandeur, awaking many curious associations which well repay the investigator of their in- 
tricate purlieus. Dunbar's Close, of which we furnish a view, has already been mentioned 
as the place pointed out by early tradition where Cromwell's " Ironsides " were lodged, 
and its whole appearance is both unique and singularly picturesque. Over the entrance to 
the Rose and Thistle Tap, the traditional guard-room of the victors of D unbar, there is 
a beautifully carved inscription, bearing one of the oldest dates now left on any private 
building in Edinburgh. The stone is rebuilt into a new portion of the house, but is still 
nearly as sharp as when fresh from the chisel ; the inscription is : 


1 Acts of Sederuut, 17th May 1606. * Ibid, 26th February 1669. * Ibid, 18th July 1688. 

4 The following Act of Sederunt, for 13th December 1785, describes the latest version of the Edinburgh Cross, 
if we except the radiated pavement that marks its site : " The Lords having considered the representation of the Lord 
Provost and Magistrates of the city of Edinburgh, setting forth, that when the Cross was taken away in the year 1756, 
a stone was erected on the side of a well on the High Street, adjacent to the place where the Cross stood, which, 
by Act of Sederunt, was declared to be the Market Cross of Edinburgh from that period. That since removing the 
oity guard, the aforesaid well was a great obstruction to the free passage upon the High Street, which therefore tliey 
intended to remove, and instead thereof to erect a stone pillar, a few feet distant from the said well, on the same side 
of the High Street, opposite to the head of the Old Assembly Close. Of which the Lords approve, and declare 
the new pillar to be the Market Cross." We suppose the more economical marking of the pavement was the only 



On another part of the building the initials I'D", and K T , appear attached to some 
curiously-formed marks, and are doubtless those of the original owners ; but unfortunately 
all the early titles are lost, so that no clue now remains to the history of this singular 
dwelling. The lower story, which is believed to have formed the black-hole or dungeon of 
the English troopers, is vaulted with stone, and around the massive walls iron rings are 
affixed, as if for the purpose of securing the prisoners once confined in these vaults. The 
east wall of the main room above is curiously constructed of eliptic arches, resting on plain 
circular pillars, and such portions of the outer wall as are not concealed by the wooden 
appendages of early times, exhibit polished ashlar work, finished with neat mouldings and 
string courses. 1 

Immediately to the north of this ancient mansion, there is a large land entering from 
the foot of Sellar's Close, which has two flat terraced roofs at different elevations, and forms 
a prominent and somewhat graceful feature of the Old Town as seen from Princes Street. 
This is known by the name of " The Cromwell Bartizan," 2 and is pointed out, on the same 
traditional authority, as having been occupied by the General, owing to its vicinity to his 
guards, and the commanding prospect which its terraced roof afforded of the English fleet 
at anchor in the Firth. Over a doorway, which divides the upper from the lower part of 
this close, a carved lintel bears this variation of the common legend : THE . LORD . BE . 
BLEIST . FOR . AL . HIS . GiFTis . 3 A building on the west side, finished in the style pre- 
valent about the period of James VI., has the following inscription over a window on the 
third floor : 



In the house which stood opposite, a very large and handsome Gothic fire-place re- 
mained, in the same style as those already described in the Guise Palace. In Brown's 
Close adjoining this, Arnot informs us that there existed in his time " a private oratory," 
containing a " baptismal font," or sculptured stone niche ; but every relic of antiquity has 
now disappeared ; and nearly the same may be said of Byres' Close, though it contained only 
a few years since the town mansion built by Sir John Byres of Coates, the carved lintel ot 
which was removed by the late Sir Patrick Walker, to Coates House, the ancient mansion 
of that family, near Edinburgh. It bears the inscription, " Blissit be God in al His giftis," 
with the initials I " B , and M ' B , and the date 1611. 4 

1 Dunbar's, Brown's, and Sellar's closes, mentioned in this chapter, are now obliterated by recent city improve- 

s Vide p. 95, some confusion exists in the different attempts to fix the exact house, but these discrepancies tend 
to confirm the general probability of the tradition ; the name JJartizan, however, would seem to determine the 
building now assigned in the text. 

3 In that amusing collection "Satan's Invisible World Discovered," written for the purpose of confounding atheists, 
the following is given as an East LotLian grace, "in the time of ignorance and superstition :" 

Lord be bless'd for all His gifts, 
Defy the Devil and all his shifts. 
God send uie mair siller. Amen. 

4 The front land to the west of Byres' Close, was long the residence, Post Office, and miscellaneous establishment of 
the noted Peter Williamson, who advertised himself as " from the other world ! " and published an ingenious narrative 
of his Adventures in America, and Captivity among the Red Indians.. Yidt K.iy's Portraits, vol. i. p. 137. 



At the foot of this close, however, we again meet with valuable associations connected 
with more than one remarkable period in Scottish history. A door-way on the east side of 
the close affords access to a handsome, though now ruinous stone stair, guarded by a neatly 
carved balustrade and leading to a garden terrace, on which stands a very beautiful old 
mansion, that yields in interest to none of the ancient private buildings of the capital. It 
presents a semi-hexagonal front to the north, each of the sides of which is surmounted by a 
richly carved dormar window, bearing inscriptions boldly cut in large Roman letters, though 
now partly defaced. That over the north window is : 


.'tja is fc( v'riiii .niuH;ii>(ff ftf^Otit: -ul;f lu rtl'iu 

The windows along the east side appear to have been originally similarly adorned ; two 
of their carved tops are built into an outhouse below, on one of which is the inscription, 
LAUS . UBIQUE . DEO . and on the other, FELICITER . INFELIX. In the title-deeds of this 
ancient building, 1 it is described as " that tenement of land, of old belonging to Adam, 
Bishop of Orkney, Commendator of Holyroodhouse, thereafter to John, Commendator of 
Holyroodhouse," his son, who in 1603, accompanied James to England, receiving on the 
journey the keys of the town of Berwick, in his Majesty's name. Only three years after- 
wards, " the temporalities and spiritualitie " of Holyrood were erected into a barony in 
his behalf, and himself created a Peer by the title of Lord Holyroodhouse. Here, then, is 
the mansion of the celebrated Adam Bothwell, who, on the 15th May 1567, officiated at the 
ominous marriage-service in the Chapel of Holyrood Palace, 2 that gave Bothwell legiti- 
mate possession of the unfortunate Queen Mary, whom he had already so completely 
secured within his toils. That same night the distich of Ovid was affixed to the Palace 
gate : 

Mense malaa Maio nubere vulgus ait ; 3 

and from the infamy that popularly attached to this fatal union, is traced the vulgar preju- 
dice that still regards it as unlucky to wed in the month of May. The character of the old 
Bishop of Orkney is not one peculiarly meriting admiration. He married the poor Queen 
according to the new forms, in despite of the protest of their framers, and he proved equally 
pliable where his own interests were concerned. He was one of the first to desert his royal 
mistress's party ; and only two months after celebrating her marriage with the Earl of 
Bothwell, he placed the crown on the head of her infant son. The following year he 
humbled himself to the Kirk, and engaged " to make a sermoun in the kirk of Halierude- 
hous, and in the end therof to confesse the offence in marieng the Queine with the Erie of 
Bothwell." 4 

The interior of this ancient building has been so entirely remodelled to adapt it to the 
very different uses of later times, that no relic of its early grandeur or of the manners 
of its original occupants remain ; but one cannot help regarding its chambers with a 

1 Now the property of Messrs Clapperton and Co., by whom it is occupied as a warehouse. 

2 "Within the auld chappel, not with the mess, both with preachings." Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 111. Keith and 
other historians, however, say, "within the great hall, where the council usually met." 

8 Ovid's Fasti, Book v. 

4 Booke of the Universal! Kirk of Scotland, p. 181. 



melancholy interest, disguised though they are by the changes of modern taste and 
manners. The name of the Bishop of Orkney appears at the bond granted by the nobility 
to the Earl of Bothwell, immediately before he put in practice his ambitious scheme against 
Queen Mary; so that here, in all probability, the rude Earl, and many of the leading 
nobles of that eventful period, have met to discuss their daring plans, and to mature the 
designs that involved so many in their consequences. Here, too, we may believe both 
Mary and James to have been entertained as guests, by father and son, while at the same 
board there sat another lovely woman, whose wrongs are so touchingly recorded in the 
beautiful old ballad of " Lady Ann Both well's Lament." She was the sister of the first 
Lord Holyroodhouse, and is said to have possessed great personal beauty. She was 
betrayed into a disgraceful connection with the Honour- 
able Sir Alexander Erskine, a son of the Earl of Mar, 

of whom a portrait still exists by Jamieson. He ig y<^ll t 

there represented in military dress, with a cuirass and 
scarf; but the splendour of his warlike attire is 
evidently uunecesary to set oif his noble and expressive 
countenance. The desertion of the frail beauty by this 
gay deceiver was believed by his contemporaries to have 
exposed him to the signal vengeance of heaven, on his 
being blown up, along with the Earl of Haddington, and 
many others of noble birth, in the Castle of Dunglass 
in 1640, the powder magazine having been ignited by a 
servant boy out of revenge against his master. 1 Adam 
Bothwell lies buried in the ruined Chapel of Holyrood, 
where his monument is still to be seen, attached to the 
second pillar from the great east window that once over- 
looked the high altar at which Mary gave her hand to 
the imbecile Darnley, and not far from the spot if we 
are to believe the contemporary annalist where she 
yielded it to her infamous ravisher. 

The fore part of the ancient building in the High Street has been almost entirely 
modernised, and faced with a new stone front, but many citizens still living remember 
when an ancient timber facade projected its lofty gables into the street, with tier above 
tier, each thrusting out beyond the lower story, while below were the covered piazza and 
darkened entrances to the gloomy " laigh shops," 8 such as may still be seen in the few 
examples of old timber lands that have escaped demolition. But this ancient fabric is 
associated with another citizen of no less note in his day " The glorious days of auld, 

1 A rude version of this beautiful ballail was printed in 1606, and others have since been given of it by Percy, Jamie- 
son, Kinloch, &c. ; Mr K. Chambers, however, was the first to publish the true history of the heroine, in his " Scot- 
tish Ballads." A slight confusion occurs in hia account, where she is styled the daughter of Bothwell, Bishop of 
Orkney, &c. The dates seeui to leave no doubt that the father was John, hi son, the first who obtained the title of 
Lord Holyroodhouse. 

2 In a Sasine of part of this property, it is styled, " that western laic;h booth, or shop, lying within the fore tenement 
of Mr Adam Bolhwell, under the laigh stair thairof ... as also that merchant shop entering from the High 
Street," &c. 

VIGNETTE. Adam Bothweil's house, from the north. 


worthy, faithfu' Provost Dick," than ever was either the Bishop of Orkney, or my Lord 
Holyroodhouse. Sir William Dick of Braid, an eminent merchant of Edinburgh, and 
provost of the city in the years 1638 and 1639, presents, in his strangely chequered history, 
one of the most striking examples of the instability of fortune on record. He was reputed 
the wealthiest man of his time in Scotland, and was generally believed by his contemporaries 
to have discovered the philosophers' stone ! l Being a zealous Covenanter, he advanced at 
one time to the Scottish Convention of Estates, in the memorable year 1641, the sum of 
one hundred thousand merks, to save them from the necessity of disbanding their army ; 
and, in the following year, the customs were sett to him, " for 202,000 merks, and 5000 
merks of girsoum." 2 On the triumph of Cromwell and the Independents, however, his 
horror of " the Sectaries " was greater even than his opposition to the Stuarts, and he 
advanced 20,000 for the service of King Charles. By this step he provoked the wrath 
of the successful party, while squandering his treasures on a failing cause. He was 
unsparingly subjected to the heaviest penalties, until his vast resources dwindled away in 
vain attempts to satisfy the rapacity of legal extortion, and he died miserably in prison, at 
Westminster, during the Protectorate, in want, it is said, of even the common necessaries of 
life. 3 This romance of real life, was familiar to all during Sir Walter Scott's early years, 
and he has represented David Deans exultingly exclaiming : " Then folk might see men 
deliver up their silver to the State's use, as if it had been as muckle sclate stanes. My 
father saw them toom the sacks of dollars out o' Provost Dick's window, intill the carts 
that carried them to the army at Dunse Law ; and if ye winna believe his testimony, there 
is the window itsell still standing in the Luckenbooths, at the aim stauchells, five doors 
abune Advocate's Close."* The old timber gable and the stanchelled window of this 
Scottish Croesus, have vanished, like his own dollars, beyond recall, but there is no doubt 
that the modern and unattractive stone front, extending between Byres' and Advocate's 
Closes only disguises the remarkable building to which such striking historical associations 
belong. The titles include not only a disposition of the property to Sir William Dick 
of Braid, but the appraising and disposition of it by his creditors after his death ; and its 
situation is casually confirmed by a contemporary notice that indicates its importance at 
the period. In the classification of the city into companies, by order of Charles I., the 
third division extends " from Gladstone's Land, down the northern side of the High 
Street, to Sir William Dick's Land." 5 The house was afterwards occupied by the Earl of 
Kintore, an early patron of Allan Ramsay, whose name was given to a small court still 
remaining behind the front building, although the public mode of access to it has dis- 
appeared since the remodelling of the old timber land. 

1 Archseologia Scottica, vol. i. p. 336. 

3 Sir Thomas Hope's Diary, Barm. Club, p. 158. Qersome, or entresse siller, now pronounced Grastum. 

* These changes of fortune are commemorated in a folio pamphlet, entitled " The lamentable state of the deceased 
Sir William Dick." It contains several copperplates, one representing Sir William on horseback, and attended with 
guards, as Lord Provost of Edinburgh, superintending the unloading of one of his rich argosies at Leah. A second 
exhibits him as arrested, and in the hands of the bailiffs, and a third presents him dead in prison. The tract is greatly 
valued by collectors. Sir Walter Scott mentions, in a note to the Heart of Midlothian, that the only copy he ever saw 
for sale was valued at 30. 

* Scott says Gotford's Close, but it is obviously a mistake, as, independent of the direct evidence we have of the true 
site of Sir William Dick's house, that close was not in the Luckenbooths, the locality he correctly mentions. 

* Maitland, p. 285. 


Advocate's Close, which bounds the ancient tenement we have been describing on the 
east, derives its name from Sir James Stewart of Goodtrees, 1 who returned from exile on 
the landing of the Prince of Orange, and took an active part in the Revolution. He was 
an object of extreme dislike to the Jacobite party, who vented their spleen against him in 
their bitterest lampoons, some of which are preserved in the Scottish Pasquils; and to them 
he was indebted for the sobriquet of Jamie Wylie. Sir James rilled the office of Lord 
Advocate from 1692 until his death in 1713, one year excepted, and had a prominent 
share in all the public transactions of that important period. Being so long in the enjoy- 
ment of his official title, the close in which he resided received the name of " the Advocate's 
Close." The house in which he lived and died is at the foot of the Close, on the west side, 
immediately before descending a flight of steps that somewhat lessen the abruptness of the 
steep descent. 2 In 1769, Sir James Stewart, grandson of the Lord Advocate, sold the 
house to David Dalrymple of Westhall, Esq., who, when afterwards raised to the Bench, 
assumed the title of Lord Westhall, and continued to reside in this old mansion till his 
death. 3 This ancient alley retains, nearly unaltered, the same picturesque overhanging 
gables and timber projections which have, without doubt, characterised it for centuries, and 
may be taken as a very good sample of a fashionable close in the palmy days of Queen 
Anne. It continued till a comparatively recent period to be a favourite locality for gentle- 
men of the law, and has been pointed out to us, by an old citizen, as the early residence of 
Andrew Crosbie, the celebrated original of " Councillor Pleydell," who forms so prominent 
a character among the dramatis personce of " Guy Mannering." The same house already 
mentioned as that of Sir James Stewart, would answer in most points to the description of 
the novelist, entering as it does, from a dark and steep alley, and commanding a magni- 
ficent prospect towards the north, though now partially obstructed by the buildings of the 
New Town. It is no mean praise to the old lawyer that he was almost the only one who 
had the courage to stand his ground against Dr Johnson, during his visit to Edinburgh. 
Mr Crosbie afterwards removed to the splendid mansion erected by him in St Andrew 
Square, ornamented with engaged pillars and a highly decorated attic story, which stands 
to the north of the Royal Bank ; 4 but he was involved, with many others, in the failure of 
the Ayr Bank, and died in such poverty, in 1785, that his widow. owed her sole support to 
an annuity of 50 granted by the Faculty of Advocates. 

The lowest house on the east side, directly opposite to that of the Lord Advocate, was 
the residence of an artist of some note in the seventeenth century. It has been pointed 
out to iis by an old citizen recently dead 5 as the house of his " grandmother's grandfather," 
the celebrated John Scougal, 6 painter of the portrait of George Heriot which now hangs in 

1 Now called " Moredun " in the parish of Libbertou. The house was built by Sir James BOOU after the 

" Sir James Stewart, Provost of Edinburgh in 1648-9, when Cromwell paid his first visit to Edinburgh, and again 
in 1658-9, at the close of the Protectorate, purchased the ancient tenement which occupied this site, and after the 
Revolution, his son, the Lord Advocate, rebuilt it, and died there in 1713, when, ' ; so great was the crowd," as Wodrow 
tells in his Analecta, " that the magistrates were at the grave in the Greyfriars' Churchyard before the corpse was taken 
out of the house at the foot of the Advocate's Close." Coltness Collections, Maitland Club, p. 17. 

3 The house appears from the titles to have been sold by Lord Westhall, in 1784, within a few weeks of his death. 

4 Now occupied as Douglas's Hotel. 5 Mr Andrew Greig, carpet manufacturer. 

6 John Scougal, younger of that name, was a cousin of Patrick Scougal, consecrated Bishop of Aberdeen in 1664. Hs 
added the upper story to the old land in Advocate's Close, and fitted up one of the floors as a picture gallery ; some 



the Council-room of the Hospital ; so that here was the fashionable lounge of the dilettanti 
of the seventeenth century, and the resort of rank and beauty, careful to preserve unbroken 
the links of the old line of family portraiture ; though a modern fine lady would be seized 
with a nervous fit at the very prospect of descending the slippery abyss. 

Following our course eastward we arrive at Roxburgh Close, which is believed to 
derive its name from having been the residence of the Earls of Roxburgh. It has, however, 
suffered a very different fate from the adjoining close. Few of its ancient features have 
escaped alteration, and only one doorway remains now built up of the mansion reputed 
to have been that in which the ancestors of the noble earls lived in state. We have 
engraved a fac-simile of the quaint and pious legend that adorns the old lintel. If this 
account be true (for which, however, there is only the authority of tradition), the date 

carries us back to the year 
1586, in which their ancestor, 
Sir Walter Ker, of Cessford, 
died, one of the leaders in the 
affray already alluded to, in 
which Sir Walter Scott of 
Buccleugh was slain on the 
High Street of Edinburgh. 
Warriston's Close is another of the ancient alleys of the Old Town which still remains 
nearly in its pristine state, 1 exhibiting the substantial relics of former grandeur, like the 
faded gentility of a reduced dowager. Handsome and lofty polished ashlar fronts 
are decorated with richly moulded and sculptured doorways, surmounted by architraves 
adorned with inscriptions and armorial bearings, still ornamental, though broken and 
defaced. Timber projections of an early date jut out here and there, and give variety to 
the irregular architecture, while far up, and almost beyond the point of sight that the 
straitened thoroughfare admits of, dormer windows of an ornate character rise into the roof, 
and the gables are finished with crow-steps, and, in one case at least, with armorial bear- 
ings. Over the first doorway on the west side is the inscription and date : 


The front of this building, facing the High Street, is of polished ashlar work, surmounted 
with handsome though dilapidated dormer windows, and is further adorned with a curious 
monogram ; but like most other similar ingenious devices, it is undecipherable without 
the key. We have failed to trace the builders or occupants at this early period ; but 
the third floor of the old land was occupied in the following century by James Murray, 

of his finest works were possessed by the late Andrew Bell, engraver, the originator of the Encyclopedia Britannica, 
who married his grand-daughter. Pinkerton remarks of him : " For some years after the Revolution he was the only 
paiuter in Scotland, and had a very great run of business. This brought him into a hasty and incorrect manner." 
This is very observable in the portrait of Heriot, copied in 1698, from the original by Paul Vansomer, now lost. The 
head is well painted, but the drapery and background are so slovenly and harshly executed, that they appear more like 
the work of an inexperienced pupil. Scougal died at Prestonpans about the year 1730, aged 85, having witnessed a 
series of as remarkable political changes as ever occurred during a single lifetime. He is named George in the 
Weekly Matjazlne (vol. xv. p. 66) and elsewhere, but this appears to be an error, as several of his descendants were 
named after him, John. 

Since the First Edition of these " Memorials " appeared, Warriston's and other closes in this part of the city have 
been so much altered as now to present little of their characteristics as memorials of the past. 


Lord Philiphaugh, one of the judges appointed after the Revolution. He sat in the Con- 
vention of Estates which assembled at Edinburgh, 26th June 1678, and was again chosen 
to represent the county of Selkirk in Parliament in the year 1681, when he became a 
special object of jealousy to the government. He was imprisoned in 1684 ; and under the 
terror of threatened torture with- the boots, he yielded to 'give evidence against those 
implicated in the Rye House Plot. He had the character of an upright and independent 
judge, but his contemporaries never forgot " that unhappy step of being an evidence to 
save his life," 1 a weakness that most of those who remembered it against him would 
probably have shown in like circumstances. 

A little further down the close another doorway appears, adorned with an inscription 
and armorial bearings. At the one end of the lintel is a shield bearing the arms of Bruce 
of Binning, boldly cut in high relief, and at the other end the same, impaled with those of 
Preston, while between them is this inscription, in large ornamental characters, 


In the earlier titles of property in this close, it is styled Brace's Close, and the family have 
evidently been of note and influence in their day. We were not without hope of being 
able to trace their connection with the celebrated Robert Bruce, who, as one of the ministers 
of Edinburgh, became an object of such special animosity to James VI. ; and the vicinity 
of the old mansion to the ancient church where he officiated renders it not improbable in 
the absence of all evidence. 2 

Still farther down, another doorway, ornamented with inscriptions and armorial bearings, 3 
gives access to a large and handsome dwelling on the first floor, adorned at its entrance 
with a niche or recess, formed of a pointed arch, somewhat plainer than the " fonts " 
described in Blyth's Close. Here was the residence of the celebrated Sir Thomas Craig, who 
won the character of an upright judge, and a man of eminent learning and true nobleness 
of character, during the long period of forty years that he practised as a lawyer, in the 
reign of Queen Mary and James VI. One of his earliest duties as a justice-depute was the 
trial and condemnation of Thomas Scott, sheriff-depute of Perth, and Henry Yair a priest, 
for having kept the gates of Holyrood Palace during the assassination of Rizzio. He 
appears to have been a man of extreme modesty, and little inclined from his natural dis- 
position to take a prominent part in public affairs. Whether from timidity or diffidence, he 
left Sir Thomas Hope to fulfil the duties which rightly devolved on him, as advocate for 
the Church, at the famous trial of the six ministers. He was of a studious turn, and readier 
in the use of his pen than his tongue. His legal treatises are still esteemed for their great 
learning ; and several of his Latin poems are to be found in the " Delitias Poetarum Scoto- 
rum," containing, according to his biographer Mr Tytler, many passages eminently poetical. 
It is a curious fact, that although repeatedly offered by King James the honour of knight- 
hood, he constantly refused it; and he is only styled " Sir Thomas Craig," in consequence 

1 Mackay's Memoirs. 

a In the Book of Retours, vol. ii., Nos. 26 and 30, in the year 1600, Robert Bruce, heir male of Robert Bruce of 
Binning, his father, appears as owuer of various lands in Linlithgow, anciently belonging to the Prioress and Convent 
of the B. V. Mary of Elcho, with the church lands of the vicarage of Byning. 

3 The inscription, now greatly defaced, is, Gratia Dei, Thomas T . . . . 


of a royal order that every one should give him that title. He was succeeded in the old 
mansion by his son, Sir Lewis Craig, and had the satisfaction of pleading as advocate while 
he presided on the bench under the title of Lord Wrightslands. The house in Warriston'a 
Close was subsequently occupied by Sir George Urquhart, of Cromarty, and still later by 
Sir Robert Baird, of Sauchton Hall. But the most celebrated residenter in this ancient 
alley is the eminent lawyer and statesman, Sir Archibald Johnston, of Warriston, the 
nephew of its older inhabitant, Sir Thomas Craig. He appears from the titles to have 
purchased from his cousin, Sir Lewis Craig, the house adjoining his own, and which is 
entered by a plain doorway on the -west side of the close, immediately below the one last 
described. Johnston of Warriston took an early and very prominent share in the resist- 
ance offered to the schemes of Charles I., and in 1638, on the royal edict being proclaimed 
from the Cross of Edinburgh, which set at defiance the popular opposition to the hated 
Service Book, he boldly appeared on a scaffold erected near it, and read aloud the cele- 
brated protest drawn up in name of the Tables, while the mob compelled the royal heralds 
to abide the reading of this counter-defiance. It is unnecessary to sketch out very minutely 
the incidents in a life already familiar to the students of Scottish history. He was 
knighted by Charles I., on his second visit to Scotland in 1641, and assumed the designation 
of Lord Warriston on his promotion to the bench. He was one of the Scottish Commis- 
sioners sent to mediate between Charles I. and the English Parliament ; and after filling 
many important offices he sat by the same title as a peer in Cromwell's abortive House of 
Lords ; and, on the death of the Protector, he displayed his keen opposition to the restora- 
tion of the Stuarts by acting as President of the Committee of Safety under Richard Crom- 
well. On the restoration of Charles II. he became an object of special animosity, and having 
boldly refused to concur in the treaty of Breda, he escaped to Hamburgh, from whence he 
afterwards retired to Rouen in France. There he was delivered up to Charles by the French 
King, and after a tedious imprisonment, both in the Tower of London and the old Tol- 
booth of Edinburgh, he was executed with peculiar marks of indignity, on the spot where 
he had so courageously defied the royal proclamation twenty-five years before. His own 
nephew, Bishop Burnet, has furnished a very characteristic picture of the hardy and politic 
statesman, in which he informs us he was a man of such energetic zeal that he rarely allowed 
himself more than three hours sleep in the twenty-four. When we consider the leading 
share he took in all the events of that memorable period, and his intimate intercourse with 
the most eminent men of his time, we cannot but view with lively interest the decayed and 
deserted mansion where he has probably entertained such men as Henderson, Argyle, 
Rothes, Lesley, Monck, and even Cromwell ; and the steep and straitened alley that still 
associates his name with the crowded lands of the Old Town. 1 

The following quaint and biting epitaph, penned by some zealous cavalier on the death 

1 The importance which was attached to this close as oue of the most fashionable localities of Edinburgh during the 
last century appears from a proposition addressed by the Earl of Morton to the Lord Provost in 1767, in which, 
among other conditions which he demands, under the threat of opposing the extension of the royalty to the 
grounds on which the New Town is built, he requires that a timber bridge shall be thrown over the North Loch, 
from the foot of Warriston's Close to Bereford's Parks, and the public Register Offices of Scotland, built at the cost of 
the town, "on the highest level ground of Robertson's and Wood's farms." To this the magistrates reply by stating, 
aiming other objections, that the value of the property in the close alone is 20,000 ! Proposition by the Karl of 
Morton, fol. 5 pp. 


of his mother, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Craig, has been preserved by Sir James 
Balfour, and is worth quoting as a sample of party rancour against the Whig statesman : 

Deevil suell ye deathe, 

And burste the lyke a tune, 

That took away good Elspet Craige, ,. 

And left y knave her sone. 

History and romance contend for the associations of the Scottish capital, not always 
with the advantage on the dull side of fact. On a certain noted Saturday night, in the 
annals of fiction, Dandy Dinmont and Colonel Mannering turned from the High Street 
" into a dark alley, then up a dark stair, and into an open door." The alley was Writers' 
Court, and the door that of Clerihugh's tavern ; a celebrated place of convivial resort during 
the last century, which still stands at the bottom of the court, though its deserted walls no 
longer ring with the revelry of High Jinks, and such royal mummings as formed the sport 
of Pleydell and his associates on that jovial night. The picture is no doubt a true one of 
scenes familiar to grave citizens of former generations. Clerihugh's tavern was the favourite 
resort of our old civic dignitaries, for those " douce festivities " that were then deemed 
indispensable to the satisfactory settlement of all city affairs. The wags of last century 
used to tell of a certain city treasurer, who, on being applied to for a new rope to the Tron 
Kirk bell, summoned the Council to deliberate on the demand; an adjournment to Cleri- 
hugh's tavern it was hoped might facilitate the settlement of so weighty a matter, but 
one dinner proved insufficient, and it was not till they had finished their third banquet in 
Writers' Court, that the application was referred to a committee of councillors, who spliced 
the old bell rope and settled the bill ! l 

We have already alluded to some of the most recently cherished superstitions in regard 
to Mary King's Close, associated with Beth's Wynd as one of the last retreats of the 
plague ; but it appears probable, from the following epigram " on Marye King's pest," 
by Drummond of Hawthornden, that the idea is coeval with the name of the close: 

Turne, citizens, to God ; repent, ropent, 
And praye your bedlam frenzies may relent ; 
Think not rebellion a trifling thing, 
This plague doth fight for Marie and the King? 

Mr George Sinclair has furnished, in his " Satan's Invisible World Discovered," * an 
account of apparitions seen in this close, and "attested by witnesses of undoubted veracity," 
which leaves all ordinary wonders far behind ! This erudite work was written to confound 
the atheists of the seventeenth century. It used to be hawked about the streets by the 
gingerbread wives, and found both purchasers and believers enough to have satisfied even 
its credulous author. Its popularity may account for the general prevalence of superstitious 
prejudices regarding this old close, which was, at best, a grim and gousty-looking place, 
and appears, from the reports of property purchased for the site of the Royal Exchange, 
to have been nearly all in ruins when that building was erected, most of the houses having 
been burned down in 1750. The pendicle of Satan's worldly possessions, however, which 

1 Writers' Court derives its name from the Signet Library having been kept there until its removal to the magnificent 
apartments which it now occupies adjoining the Parliament House. 

Drummond of Hawthornden's Poems, Maitland Club, p. 395. 

'' Originally published in 1685, by Mr George Sinclair, Professor of Philosophy in Glasgow College, and afterwards 
minister of Eastwood in Renfrewshire. 


we have now to describe, is understood to be still standing in the nether regions of the 
Royal Exchange area. 

From Professor Sinclair's veracious narrative, it appears that Mr Thomas Coltheart, a 
respectable law agent, removed from a lower part of the town to a better house in Mary 
King's Close. The maid-servant was warned by the neighbours of its being haunted on 
her first coming about the house, and became so intimidated that she deserted her place, 
leaving Mr Coltheart and his wife alone in their new dwelling, to defy the devil and his 
minions as they best might. The good lady had seated herself beside her husband's bed 
who had lain down on the Sunday afternoon, being slightly indisposed and was engaged 
in reading the Bible, when happening to lift her eye, she was appalled by beholding a head, 
seemingly that of an old man with a grey beard, suspended in mid air at a little distance, 
and gazing intently on her. She swooned at the sight, and lay in a state of insensibility 
till the return of her neighbours from church. Her husband, on being told of the appari- 
tion, sought to reason her out of her credulity, and the evening passed over without further 
trouble ; but they were not long gone to bed when he himself spied the same phantom-head, 
by the light of the fire, gazing at him with its ghastly eyes. He rose and lighted a candle, 
and took to prayer, but with little effect; for in about an hour the bodiless phantom was 
joined by that of a child also suspended in mid air, and this again was followed by a naked 
arm from the elbow downwards, which, in defiance of all adjurations and prayers, not only 
persisted in remaining, but seemed bent on shaking hands with them. The poor agent in 
the most solemn manner addressed this very friendly but unwelcome intruder, engaging to 
do his utmost to right any wrongs it had received, if it would only begone, but all in 
vain. The goblins evidently considered that the worthy couple, and not they, were the 
intruders. They persisted in making themselves at home ; though after all they seem 
to have been civil enough ghosts, with no unfriendly intentions, so that they were only 
allowed the run of the house. By and by the naked arm was joined by a spectral dog, 
which deliberately mounted a chair, and turning its nose to its tail, went to sleep. This 
was followed by a cat, and soon after by other and stranger creatures, until the whole floor 
swarmed with them, so that " the honest couple went to their knees again within the bed ; 
there being no standing in the floor of the room. In the time of prayer, their ears were 
startled with a deep, dreadful, and loud groan, as of a strong man dying, at which all the 
apparitions and visions at once vanished ! " 

Mr Coltheart must have been a man of no ordinary courage, or this night's experience 
would have satisfied him to resign his new house to the devil, or his subtenants, who seemed 
to have taken a previous lease of it. He continued to reside there till his death without 
further molestation ; but at the very moment he expired, a gentleman whose law-agent and 
intimate friend he was, being in his house at Tranent a small town about ten miles 
from Edinburgh was awoke while asleep in bed there with his wife, by the nurse, who 
was affrighted by something like a cloud moving about the room. While the gentleman 
got hold of his sword to defend himself and them against this unwonted visitor, the cloud 
gradually assumed the form of a man. " At last the apparition looked him fully and 
perfectly in the face, and stood by him with a ghostly and pale countenance." The gentle- 
man recognised his friend Thomas Coltheart, and demanded of him if he was dead, and 
what was his errand ? Whereat the ghost held up his hand three times, shaking it towards 


him, and vanished. He arose and proceeded immediately to Edinburgh, to inquire into 
this strange occurrence, and arriving at the house in Mary King's Close, found the widow 
in tears for the death of the husband whose apparition he had seen. This account, we are 
told, was related by the minister, who was in the house on this occasion, to the Duke of 
Lauderdale, in the presence of many nobles, and is altogether as credible and well-authen- 
ticated a ghost story as the lovers of the marvellous could desire. The house, after being 
deserted for a while, was again attempted to be inhabited by a hard-drinking and courageous 
old pensioner and his wife ; but towards midnight the candle began to burn blue, the head 
again made its appearance, but in much more horrible form, and the terrified couple made 
a precipitate retreat, resigning their dwelling without dispute to this prior tenant. 

Several ancient alleys and a mass of old and mostly ruinous buildings were demolished 
in 1753 in preparing the site for the Royal Exchange, various sculptured stones belong- 
ing to which were built into the curious tower erected by Walter Ross, Esq., at the Dean, 
and popularly known by the name of "Ross's Folly." Several of these were scattered 
about the garden grounds below the Castle rock, exhibiting considerable variety of carving. 
Another richly carved stone, consisting of a decorated ogee arch with crocquets and finial, 
surmounted by shields, was built into a modern erection at the foot of Craig's Close, and 
nearly corresponded with one which stood in a more dilapidated state in the Princes Street 
Gardens, tending to show the important character of the buildings that formerly occupied 
this site. Among those in the gardens there was a lintel, bearing the Somerville arms, 
and the date 1658, with an inscription, and the initials I. S., possibly those of James, 
tenth Lord Somerville ; but this was discovered in clearing out the bed of the North 

The old laud at the head of Craig's Close, fronting the main street, claims special notice, 
as occupying the site of Andrew Hart the famous old printer's " heich buith, lyand 
within the foir tenement of land upone the north syd of the Hie Streit," 1 and which, by 
a curious coincidence, became after the lapse of two centuries the residence of the cele- 
brated bibliopolist, Provost Creech, and the scene of his famed morning levees ; and more 
recently the dwelling of Mr Archibald Constable, from whose establishment so many of the 
highest productions of Scottish literature emanated. 

The printing-house of the old typographer still stands a little way down the close, on 
the east side. It is a picturesque and substantial stone tenement, with large and neatly 
moulded windows, retaining traces of the mullions that anciently divided them, and the 
lower crowstep of the north gable bears a shield adorned with the Sinclair arms. Hand- 
some stone corbels project from the several floors, whereon have formerly rested the antique 
timber projections referred by Maitland to the reign of James IV. Over an ancient door- 
way, now built up, is sculptured this motto, MY HOIP IS CHRYST with the initials 
A S and M K , a curious device containing the letter S entwined with a cross, and 
the date 1593. An interesting relic belonging to this land, preserved in the museum 
of the Society of Antiquaries, is thus described in the list of donations for 1828 : " A 
very perfect ancient Scottish spear, nearly fifteen feet long, which has been preserved 
from time immemorial, within the old printing office in Craig's Close, supposed to have 
bt-en the workshop of the celebrated printer, Andro Hart." In the memorable tumult ou 

1 Andrew Hart's will. Banti. MUc. vol. ii. p. '247. 


the 17th December 1596, already described, when the king was besieged in the Tolbooth 
by the excited citizens, Andrew Hart is specially mentioned as one of the very foremost in 
the rising that produced such terror and indignation in King James's mind ; in so much 
so, that lie was soon after warded in the Castle of Edinburgh, at his Majesty's instance, as 
one of the chief authors of " that seditious stirring up and moving of the treasonable 
tumult and uproare that was in the burgh." 1 We can fancy the sturdy old printer sallying 
out from the close, at the cry of " Armour ! armour ! " hastily armed with his long spear 
and jack, and joining the excited burghers, that mustered from every booth and alley to 
lay siege to the affrighted monarch in the Tolbooth, or to help " the worthy Deacon Watt," 
in freeing him from his ignoble durance. 

The house which stands between the fore and back lands of the famed typographer, was 
celebrated during the last century as one of the best frequented taverns in the neighbour- 
hood of the Cross, and a favourite resort of some of the most noted of the clubs, by means 
of which the citizens of that period were wont to seek relaxation and amusement. Fore- 
most among these was the Cape Club, celebrated in Ferguson's poem of Auld Reekie. 
The scene of meeting for a considerable period, where Cape Hall was nightly inaugurated, 
was in James Mann's, at the Isle of Man Arms, Craig's Close. There a perpetual High 
Jinks was kept up, by each member receiving on his election a peculiar name and char- 
acter which he was ever afterwards expected to maintain. This feature, however, was by 
no means confined to the Cape Club, but formed one of the peculiarities of nearly all the 
convivial meetings of the capital, so that a slight sketch of " the Knights of the Cape " 
will suffice for a good sample of these old Edinburgh social unions. The Club appears 
from its minutes to have been duly constituted, and the mode of procedure finally fixed, in 
the year 1764 ; it had however existed long before, and the name and peculiar forms which 
it then adopted were derived from the characters previously assumed by its leading 
members. 2 Its peculiar insignia were 1st, a cape, or crown, which was worn by the 
Sovereign of the Cape on state occasions, and which, in the palmy days of the Club, its 
enthusiastic devotees adorned with gold and jewels ; and, 2d, two maces in the form of 
huge steel pokers, which formed the sword and sceptre of his Majesty in Cape Hall. 
These, with other relics of this jovial fraternity, are now appropriately hung in the lobby 
of the Societies of Antiquaries. 

The first Sovereign of the order after its final constitution was Thomas Lancashire, the 
once celebrated comedian, on whom Ferguson wrote the following epitaph : 

Alas ! poor Tom, how oft, with merry heart, 
Have we beheld thee play the sexton's part ! 
Each merry heart must now be grieved to see 
The sexton's dreary part performed on thee. 

The comedian rejoiced in the title of Sir Cape, and in right of his sovereignty gave name 
to the Club, while the title of Sir Poker, which pertained to its oldest member, James 
Aitken, suggested the insignia of royalty. Tom Lancashire was succeeded on the throne 
by David Herd, the well-known editor of what Scott calls the first classic edition of Scottish 
songs, whose knightly soubriquet was Sir Scrape. His secretary was Jacob More, the 

1 Culderwood's Hist. vol. v. pp. 512, 520, 535. 

2 A different account of the Knights of the Cape has been published, but the general accuracy of the text may be 
relied upon, being derived from the minute books of the Club. 


well-known landscape painter, 1 and among his subjects may be mentioned the celebrated 
historical painter, Alexander Runciman, Sir Brimstone ; Robert Ferguson, the poet, dubbed 
Sir Precentor, most probably from his fine musical voice ; Gavin Wilson, the poetical 
shoemaker, who published a collection of masonic songs in 1788, whose club title was Sir 
Maccaroni ; Walter Williamson of Cardrona, Esq., a thorough specimen of the rough bon 
vivant laird of the last age ; Walter Ross, the antiquary ; Sir Henry Raeburn, who had 
already been dubbed a knight under the title of Sir Toby, ere George IV. gave him that of 
Sir Henry ; with a host of other knights of great and little renown, of whom we shall only 
specify Sir Lluyd, as the notorious William Brodie was styled. Some ingenious member 
has drawn on the margin of the minutes of his election, April 27th, 1773, a representation 
of his last public appearance, on the new drop of his own invention, some fifteen years 
later. The old books of the Club abound with such pencilled illustrations and commen- 
taries, in which the free touch of Runciman may occasionally be traced, among ruder 
sketches of less practised hands. 

The following was the established form of inauguration of a Knight of the Cape. The 
novice, on making his appearance in Cape Hall, was led up to the Sovereign by two knightly 
sponsors, and having made his obeisance, was required to grasp the large poker with his left 
hand, and, laying his right hand on his breast, the oath de fideli was administered to him 
by the Sovereign the knights present all standing uncovered in the following words : 

I swear devoutly by this light, 
To be a true and faithful Knight, 
With all my might, 
Both day and night, 

So help me Poker ! 

Having then reverentially kissed the larger poker, and continuing to grasp it, the Sovereign 
raised the smaller poker with both his royal fists, and, aiming three successive blows at the 
novice's head, he pronounced, with each, one of the initial letters of the motto of the Club, 
C. F. D., explaining their import to be Concordia Fratrum Decus. The knight elect 
was then called upon to recount some adventure or scrape which had befallen him, from 
some leading incident in which the Sovereign selected the title conferred on him, and which 
he ever after bore in Cape Hall. This description of the mode of inauguration into that 
knightly order will explain the allusions in Ferguson's poem : 

But chief, Cape ! we crave thy aid, 
To get our cares and poortith laid. 
Sincerity, and genius true, 
Of Knights have ever been the due. 
Mirth, music, porter deepest dyed, 
Are never here to worth denied ; 
And health, o' happiness the queen, 
Blinks bonny, wi' her smile serene. 

The Club, whose honours were thus carefully hedged in by solemn ceremonial, established 
its importance by deeds consistent with its lofty professions, among which may be specified 
the gift by his Majesty of the Cape to his Majesty of Great Britain in 1778, of a contri- 
bution from the Knights of one hundred guineas, " to assist his Majesty in raising troops.'' 

1 Jacob More was a pupil of Alexander Runciman. He went to Rome about 1773, where he acquired a high reputa- 
tion as a landscape painter. He applied his art to the arrangement of the gardens of the Prince Borghese's villa, near 
the Porta Pinciana, with such taste, as excited the highest admiration of the Italians. Fateli. 


The entry money to the Club, which was originally half-a-crown, gradually rose to a guinea, 
and it seems to have latterly assumed a very aristocratic character. A great regard for 
economy, however, remained with it to the last. On the 10th of June 1776 it is resolved, 
" that they shall at no time take bad half-pence from the house, and also recommend it to 
the house to take none from them ! " and one of the last items entered on their minutes, 
arises from an intimation of the landlord that he could not afford them suppers under 
sixpence each, when it is magnanimously determined by the Club in full conclave, " that 
the suppers shall be at the old price of four-pence half-penny ! " Sir Cape, the comedian, 
appears to have eked out the scanty rewards of the drama, by himself maintaining a tavern 
at. the head of the Canongate, which was for some time patronised by the Knights of the 
Cape. They afterwards paid him occasional visits to Comedy Hut, New Edinburgh, a 
house which he opened beyond the precincts of the North Loch about the year 1770, and 
there they held their ninth Grand Cape, as their great festival was styled, on the 9th of 
June of that year. 1 This sketch of one of the most famous convivial clubs of last century 
will suffice to give some idea of the revels in which grave councillors and senators were 
wont to engage, when each slipt off his professional formality along with his three-tailed 
wig and black coat, and bent his energies to the task of such merry fooling, while his 
example was faithfully copied by clerk and citizen of every degree. " Such, Themis, 
were anciently the sports of thy Scottish children ! " The same haunt of revelry and wit 
witnessed in the year 1785 the once celebrated charlatan, Dr Katterfelto, immortalised by 
Cowper in " The Task," among the quackeries of old London, 

With his hair on end, 
At his own wonders wondering for his bread ! 

His advertisement 2 sets forth his full array of titles, as Professor of Experimental Philo- 
sophy, Lecturer on Electricity, Chemistry, and Sleight of Hand, &c., and announces to his 
Patrons and the Public, that the Music begins at six and the Lecture at seven o'clock, at 
Craig's Close, High Street 

Another of the old lanes of the High Street, which has been an object of special note 
to the local antiquary is Anchor Close. Its fame is derived, in part, at least, from the 
famous corps of Crochallan Fencibles, celebrated by Burns both in prose and verse a 
convivial club, whose festive meetings were held in Daniel Douglas's tavern at the head of 
the alley. Burns was introduced to this club in 1787, while in Edinburgh superintending 
the printing of his poems, when, according to custom, one of the corps was pitted against 
the poet in a contest of wit and irony. Burns bore the assault with perfect good humour, 
and entered into the full spirit of the meeting, but he afterwards paid his antagonist the 
compliment of acknowledging that " he had never been so abominably thrashed in all his 
life ! " The name of this gallant corps, which has been the subject of learned conjecture, 
is the burden of a Gaelic song with which the landlord occasionally entertained his guests. 3 
The Club was founded by Mr William Smellie, Author of the Philosophy of Natural 
History, and numbered among its members the Honourable Henry Erskine, Lords Newton 

1 Provincial Cape Clubs, deriving their authority and diplomas from the parent body, were successively formed iu 
Glasgow, Manchester, and London, and in Charlestown, South Carolina, each of which was formally established in 
virtue of a royal commission granted by the Sovereign of the Cape. The American off-shoot of this old Edinburgh 
fraternity is said to be still flourishing in the Southern States. 

* Caledonian Mercury, January 24th, 1788. s Kerr's Life of William Smellie, vol. ii. p. 256. 


and Gillies, with other men emiiieut for learning and rank. Mr Smellie may be regarded 
as in some degree the genius loci of this locality ; the distinguished printing-house which he 
established is still occupied by his descendants, 1 and there the most eminent literary men of 
that period visited, and superintended the printing of works that have made the press of the 
Scottish capital celebrated throughout Europe. There was the haunt of Drs Blair, Beattie, 
Black, Robertson, Adam Ferguson, Adam Smith, Lords Monboddo, Hailes, Kames, Henry 
Mackenzie, Arnot, Hume, and, foremost among the host, the poet Burns ; of whom some 
interesting traditions are preserved in the office. The old desk is still shown, at which these 
and other eminent men revised their proofs ; and the well used desk-stool is treasured as a 
valuable heir-loom, bearing on it an inscription, setting forth, that it is " the stool on which 
Burns sat while correcting the proofs of his Poems, from December 1786 to April 1787." 
Not even the famed Ballantyue press can compete with this venerable haunt of the Scottish 
literati, whose very " devils " have consumed more valuable manuscript in kindling the 
office fires, than would make the fortunes of a dozen modern autograph collectors ! It need 
not surprise us to learn that even the original manuscripts of Burns were invariably 
converted to such homely purposes ; the estimation of the poet being very different in 1787 
from what it has since become. Of traditions of remote antiquity, the Anchor Close has its 
full share ; and the numerous inscriptions, as well as the general character of the old 
buildings that rear their tall and irregular fronts along its west side, still attest its early 
importance. Immediately on entering the close from the High Street, the visitor discovers 
this inscription, tastefully carved over the first entrance within the peud: THE LORD 
IS ONLY MY SVPORT ; and high overhead, above one of the windows facing 
down the close, a carved stone bears a shield with the date 1569, and, on its third and 
fourth quarters, a pelican feeding her young with her own blood. Over another doorway a 
little further down is this pious legend: LORD IN THE IS AL MY 
TRAIST Here was the approach to Dannie Douglas's tavern, celebrated among the older 
houses of entertainment in Edinburgh as the haunt of the Crochallau corps. It is men- 
tioned under the name of the Anchor Tavern in a deed of renunciation by James Deans of 
Woodhouselee, Esq., in favour of his daughter, dated 1713, and still earlier references 
allude to its occupants as vintners. The portion of this building which faces the High 
Street, retains associations of a different character, adding another to the numerous 
examples of the simpler notions of our ancestors who felt their dignity in no way endangered 
when " the toe of the peasant came so near the heal of the courtier." It is styled in most 
of the title deeds " Lord Forglen's Land," so that on one of the stories of the same building 
that furnished accommodation to the old tavern, resided Sir Alexander Ogilvie, Bart., one 
of the Commissioners of the Union, and for many years a senator of the College of Justice 
under the title of Lord Forglen. Fountainhall records some curious notes of an action 
brought against him by Sir Alexander Forbes of Tolquhoun, for stealing a gilded mazer 
cup 2 out of his house, but which was at length accidently discovered in the hands of a 
goldsmith at Aberdeen, to whom Sir Alexander had himself entrusted it some years before 
to be repaired; and he having forgot, it lay there unrelieved, in security for the goldsmith's 

1 This printing-office, together with the other objects of interest here described iu connection with Anchor Close, 
was taken down ou the construction of Cockburn Street in 1859. 
a Mazer Cup, a drinking cup of maple. 


charge of Imlf-a-crown ! It finally cost its rash, and, as it appears, vindictive owner, a 
penalty of 10,000 merks, the half only of the fine at first awarded against him. 

A confused tradition appears to have existed at an early period as to Queen Mary's 
having occupied a part of the ancient building within the close at some time or other. 
The Crochallaii Fencibles were wont to date their printed circulars from " Queen Mary's 
council-room," and the great hall in which they met, and in which also the Society of 
Antiquaries long held their anniversary meetings, bore the name of the CROWN. In a 
history of the close, privately printed by Mr Smellie in 1843, it is stated as a remarkable 
fact, that there existed about forty years since a niche in the wall of this room, where 
Mary's crown was said to be deposited when she sat in council ! We shrewdly suspect 
the whole tradition had its origin in the Crochallan Mint. The building has still the 
appearance of having been a mansion of note in earlier times; in addition to the inscriptions 
already mentioned, which are beautifully cut in ornamental lettering, it is decorated with 
such irregular bold string-courses as form the chief ornaments of the most ancient private 
buildings in Edinburgh, and four large and neatly moulded windows are placed so close 
together, two on each floor, as to convey the idea of one lofty window divided by a narrow 
mull ion and transom. In the interior, also, decayed pannelling, and mutilated, yet hand- 
some oak balustrades still attest the former dignity of the place. 

Over a doorway still lower down the close, where the Bill Chamber was during the 
greater part of last century, the initials and date W'R ' C'M 1616, are cut in large 
letters ; and the house immediately below contains the only instance we have met with iu 
Edinburgh, of a carved inscription over an interior doorway. It occurs above the entrance 
to a small inner room in the sunk floor of the house ; but the wall rises above the roof, 
and is finished with crow-steps, so that the portion now enclosing it appears to be a later 
addition. The following is the concise motto, which seems to suggest that its original 
purpose was more dignified than its straitened dimensions might seem to imply: 


The initials are those of William Fowler, merchant burgess ; the father, in all probability, 
of William Fowler, the poet, who was secretary to Queen Anne of Denmark, and whose 
sister was the mother of Drummond of Hawthoruden. 1 At a later period this mansion 
formed the residence of Sir George Drummond, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, in the years 
1683 and 1684, and probably a descendant of the original owner, in whose time the lower 
ground appears to have been all laid out in gardens, sloping down to the North Loch, and 
adorned with a summer-house, afterwards possessed by Lord Forglen. We are disposed to 
smile at the aristocratic retreats of titled and civic dignitaries down these old closes, now 
altogether abandoned to squalid poverty ; yet many of them, like this, were undoubtedly 
provided with beautiful gardens and pleasure grounds, the charms of which would be 
enhanced by their unpromising and straitened access. 

1 There is reason for believing that the elder William Fowler, born in 1531, was also a poet (vide Archjeol. Scot, 
vol. iv. p. 71), so that the burgess referred to in the text is probably the author of " The Triumph of Death," and other 
poems, referred to among the original Drummond MSS. in the library of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, in a 
fragment dated, " From my house in Edr. the 9. of Jan. 1590." The initials B. G., which are, no doubt, those of his 
wife, may yet serve to identify him as the owner of the old tenement in Anchor Close. 


Not far from this, on the west side of the Old Stamp Office Close, stood a large, old- 
fashioned mansion, which formed above a century ago the residence of Alexander, ninth 
Earl of Eglinton, and his lovely Countess Susannah Kennedy reputed the handsomest 
woman of her time to whom the Gentle Shepherd is dedicated, both in Ramsay's most 
fluent prose, and in some of Hamilton of Bangour's flattering strains. She was brought 
to Edinburgh just about the time of the Union by her father, Sir Archibald Kennedy of 
Colzean a rough old cavalier, who had borne a part in the best and worst achievements 
of Claverhoiise and her beauty speedily weaned the keenest devotees of politics from its 
engrossing attractions. The Earl of Eglinton was already provided with a Countess, whose 
protracted ill health had made him hopeless of an heir; and just when he had been smitten 
with the universal admiration of the lovely Susannah, and had exhibited some very unequi- 
vocal symptoms of the pangs of a despairing lover, his own Countess died, and the forlorn 
widower " bore oif the belle," to the infinite chagrin of many younger, but less attractive 
wooers. 1 The Countess was somewhat of a blue-stocking, and the most conspicuous patroness 
of the Scottish muses in her day. Her name appears on other dedication pages besides the 
honourable one of the Gentle Shepherd. Ramsay dedicated to her the music of his first 
Book of Songs a little work now very rare and at a later period he presented to her the 
original manuscript of his great pastoral poem, which she afterwards parted with to James 
Boswell. It is now preserved in the library at Auchinleck, along with the presentation 
letter of the poet. 

Euphemia, or Lady Effie, as she was more generally called, a daughter of the Earl by 
his first Countess, was married to the celebrated " Union Lockhart," and proved an able 
auxiliary to him in many of his secret intrigues on behalf of the exiled Stuarts. When 
not engaged in attending parliament, he resided chiefly at his country seat of Dryden, while 
Lady Effie paid frequent visits to Edinburgh, disguised in male attire. She used to frequent 
the coffee-houses and other places of public resort, and joining freely in conversation with 
the Whig partizans, she often obtained important information for her husband. It chanced 
on one occasion, that Mr Forbes, a zealous Whig, but a man of profligate habits, had got 
hold of some important private papers, implicating Lockhart, and which he had engaged 
to forward to Government. Lady Euphemia Lockhart dressed her two sons who were 
fair and somewhat effeminate looking, though handsome youths, in negligee, fardingale, 
and masks ; with patches, jewels, and all the finery of accomplished courtezans. Thus 
equipped, they sallied out to the Cross, and, watching for the Whig gallant, they speedily 
nttracted his notice, and so won on him by their attentions that he was induced to accom- 
pany them to a neighbouring tavern, where the pseudo fair ones fairly drank him below 
the table, and then rifled him of the dangerous papers. This anecdote, which we have 
obtained from a grand-nephew of Lady Lockhart, furnishes, we think, a more graphic 
picture of the manners and notions of the age of Queen Anne than any incident we have 
met with. 

1 Sir John Clerk, Bart., as we have been told by a descendant of the Earl of Eglinton after much coquetting and 
versifying, had actually made a declaration of his passiou, which the father, at least, had so far under consideration as 
to consult the Earl thereupon. His reply was " Bide awee, Sir Archie, my wife's very sickly ! " a hint sufficient to 
settle the hopes of the Baronet of Pennycuik. Sir J. Clerk was the author of the fine Scottish song, " Oh merry may 
the maid be that marries wi' the miller," with the exception of the first verse, which is ancient. The Earl was little 
more than forty when he married this, his third Countess. 


The mansion of the Earl in the Old Stamp Office Close was celebrated at a subsequent 
period as Fortune's tavern, a favourite resort of men of rank and fashion, while yet some of 
the nobles of Scotland dwelt in its old capital. At a still later period, it was the scene of 
the annual festivities during the sittings of the General Assembly of the Kirk, towards the 
close of last century. The old Earl of Leven, who was for many years the representative 
of majesty at the High Court of the Church, annually took up his abode at this fashionable 
tavern, and received in state the courtiers who crowded to his splendid levees. 1 Still more 
strangely does it contrast with modern notions, to learn that the celebrated Henry Dundas, 
first Viscount Melville, began practice as an advocate while residing on the third flat of the 
old land a little further down the street, at the head of the Flesh Market Close, and con- 
tinued to occupy his exalted dwelling for a considerable time. Below this close, we again 
come to works of more modern date. Milne Square, which bears the date 1689, exhibits 
one of the Old Town improvements before its contented citizens dreamt of bursting their 
ancient fetters, and rearing a new city beyond the banks of the North Loch. To the 
east of this, the first step in that great undertaking demolished some of the old lanes 
of the Higli Street, and among the rest the Cap and Feather Close, a short alley which 
stood immediately above Halkerston's Wynd. The lands that formed the east side of this 
close still remain in North Bridge Street, presenting doubtless, to the eye of every tasteful 
reformer, offensive blemishes in the modern thoroughfare ; yet this unpicturesque locality 
has peculiar claims on the interest of every lover of Scottish poetry, for here, on the 5th 
of September 1750, the gifted child of genius, Robert Ferguson, was born. The precise 
site of his father's dwelling is unknown, but now that it has been transformed by the indis- 
crimiuatiug hands of modern improvers, this description may suffice to suggest to some as 
they pass along that crowded thoroughfare such thoughts as the dwellers in cities are most 
careless to encourage. 2 

Availing ourselves of the subdivision of the present subject, effected by the improve- 
ments to which we have adverted, we shall retrace our steps, and glance at such associations 
with the olden time as may still be gathered from the scene of the desolating fires that 
swept away nearly every ancient feature on the south side of the High Street. Within 
the last few years, the sole survivor of all the antique buildings that once reared their 
picturesque and lofty fronts between the Lawumarket and Niddry's Wynd has been demo- 
lished, to make way for the new Police Office. It had strangely withstood the terrible 
conflagration that raged around it in 1824, and, with the curious propensity that still pre- 
vails in Edinburgh for inventing suggestive and appropriate names, it was latterly univer- 
sally known as " the Salamander Land." 3 Through this a large archway led into the Old 
Fish Market Close, on the west side of which, previous to the Great Fire, the huge pile 
of buildings in the Parliament Close reared its southern front high over all the neigh- 

1 In 1812 an unwonted spectacle was exhibited at the head of the Old Stamp Office Close, in the execution of three 
young lads there, as the leaders in a riot that took place on New Year's Day of that year, in which several citizens were 
killed and numerous robberies committed. The judges fixed upon this spot, as having been the scene of the chief blood- 
shed that had occurred, in order to mark more impressively the detestation of their crimes. A small work was pub- 
lished by the Kev. W. Innes, entitled " Notes of Conversations " with the criminals. 

2 In Edgar's map, the close is shown extending no farther than in a line with Milue's Court, so that the whole of the 
east side still remains, including, it may be, the poet's birthplace. 

3 We have been told that this land was said to have been the residence of Defoe while iu Edinburgh ; the tradition, 
however, is entirely unsupported by other testimony. 


bouring buildings with a majestic and imposing effect, of which the north front of James's 
Court the only private building that resembles it conveys only a very partial idea. 
Within the Fishmarket Close was the mansion of George Heriot, the royal goldsmith of 
James VI. ; l where more recently resided the elder Lord President Dundas, father of 
Lord Melville, a thorough bon vivant of the old claret-drinking school of lawyers. 2 There 
also, for successive generations, dwelt another dignitary of the College of Justice, the 
grim executioner of the law's last sentence happily a less indispensable legal function- 
ary than in former days. The last occupant of the hangman's house annually drew " the 
denipster's fee " at the Royal Bank, and eked out his slender professional income by 
cobbling such shoes as his least superstitious neighbours cared to trust in his hands, 
doubtless, with many a sorrowful reflection on the wisdom of our forefathers, and " the 
good old times " that are gone by. 3 The house has been recently rebuilt, but, as might 
be expected, it is still haunted by numerous restless ghosts, and will run considerable 
risk of remaining tenantless should its official occupant, in these hard times, find his 
occupation gone.* 

Borthwick's Close, which stands to the east, is expressly mentioned in Nisbet's 
Heraldry 5 as having belonged to the Lords Borthwick, and in the boundaries of a house 
in the adjoining close, the property about the middle of the east side is described as the 
Lord Napier's ; but the whole alley is now entirely modernised, and destitute of attractions 
either for the artist or antiquary. On the ground, however, that intervenes between this 
and the Assembly Close, one of the new Heriot schools has been built, and occupies a site 
of peculiar interest. There stood, until its demolition by the Great Fire of 1824, the old 
Assembly Rooms of Edinburgh, whither the directors of fashion removed their " General 
Assembly," about the year 1720, 6 from the scene of its earlier revels in the West Bow. 
There it was that Goldsmith witnessed for the first time the formalities of an old Scottish 
ball, during his residence in Edinburgh in 1753. The light-hearted young Irishman has 
left an amusing account of the astonishment with which, " oh entering the dancing-hall, 
he sees one end of the room taken up with the ladies, who sit dismally in a group by them- 
selves ; on the other end stand their pensive partners that are to be, but no more inter- 
course between the sexes than between two countries at war. The ladies, indeed, may 
ogle, and the gentlemen sigh, but an embargo is laid upon any closer commerce ! " Only 
three years after the scene witnessed by the poet, these grave and decorous revels were 
removed to more commodious rooms in Bell's Wynd, where they continued to be held till 
the erection of the new hall in George Street. Much older associations, however, pertain 
to this interesting locality, for, on the site occupied by the old Assembly Rooms, there 
formerly stood the town mansion of Lord Durie, President of the Court of Session in 1642, 
and the hero of the merry ballad of " Christie's Will." The Earl of Traquair, it appears, 
had a lawsuit pending in the Court of Session, to which the President's opposition was 

1 Dr Steven's Memoirs of George Heriot, p. 5. 

2 Vide " Convivial habits of the Scottish Bar." Note to " Guy Mannering." 

3 Vide Chambers's Traditions, vol. ii. p. 184, for some curious notices of the Edinburgh hangmen. 

4 The office of this functionary is now abolished, and the house is occupied by private families. 
6 Nisbet's Heraldry, vol. ii. Appendix, p. 106. 

6 In a sasine dated 1723, it is styled " That big hall, or great room, now known by the name of the Assembly 
House, being part of that new great stone tenement of land lately built," &c. Burgh Charter Room. 



dreaded. In this dilemma he had recourse to Will Armstrong, a worthy descendant of the 
famous mosstrooper executed by James V., who owed to the Earl's good services hia 
escape from a halter. Will promptly volunteered to kidnap the President on learning 
that he stood in his patron's way, and watching his opportunity when Lord Durie was 
riding out, he entered into conversation with him, and so decoyed him to an unfrequented 
spot called the Figgate Whins, near Portobello, when he suddenly pulled him from his 
horse, muffled him in his trooper's cloak, and rode off with the luckless judge trussed up 
behind him. Lord Durie was secured in the dungeon of an old castle in Annandale called 
the Tower of Grasme, and his horse being found on the beach, it was concluded he had 
thrown his rider into the sea. His friends went into mourning, his successor was 
appointed, the Earl won his plea, and Will was directed to set his captive at liberty. The 
old judge was accordingly seized in his dark dungeon, muffled once more in the cloak, 
and conveyed with such dexterity to the scene of his capture that he long entertained the 
belief he had been spirited away by witches. The joy of his friends was probably 
surpassed by the blank amazement of his successor, when he appeared to reclaim his old 
office and honours. Accident long after led to a discovery of the whole story; but in 
those disorderly times it was only laughed at as a fair ruse de guerre.^ In the ballad the 
bold moss-trooper alights at Lord Dune's door, and beguiles him with a message from "the 
fairest lady in Teviotdale." Sir Walter, however, confesses to such ekeing and patching 
of the traditionary fragments of the old ballad, that we must content ourselves with the 
fact of the stolen President's dwelling having stood on the site of the Heriot's school in the 
Assembly Close. Of this there can be no doubt, as it is referred to in the boundaries of 
various early deeds, in most of which the alley is styled Durie's Close. 

The Covenant Close has already been referred to,* 
with its interesting old laud, surmounted with three 
crow-stepped gables, forming the most prominent 
feature in the range of the High Street as seen from 
the south. The front lands immediately below this 
and the adjoining close again direct us to associations 
with the olden time, though only as occupying the 
site of what once was interesting, for fire and modern 
reform together have effected an entire revolution in 
this part of the town. Over the doorway immediately 
above Bell's Wynd an escallop shell, cut upon the 
modern stone lintel, marks the site of the " Clam 
Shell Turnpike," an edifice associated with eminent 
characters, and some of the most interesting eras in 
Scottish history. Maitland only remarks of it, in 
this close there " is an ancient chapel, which is still 
plainly to be seen by the manner of its construction, though now converted into a dwelling- 

1 Christie's Will, Border Minstrelsy. There is little doubt of the general truth of this tradition. The leading facts, 
though without the names, are related in Forbes's Journal, and Scott tells us that some old stanzas of the ballad were 
current on the Border in his youth. a Ante, p. 93. 

VIGNKTTE Clam Shell Turnpike, from Skene. Taken down 1791. 


house," J to which Arnot adds the more definite though scanty information, " At the head 
df Bell's Wynd there were an hospital and chapel, known by the name of Maison Dieu."* 
Like most other religious establishments and church property, it passed into the hands 
of laymen at the Reformation by an arbitrary grant of the crown, so that the original 
charters of foundation no longer remain as the evidences of its modern claimants. It is 
styled, however, in the earliest titles extant, " the old land formerly of George, Bishop 
of Duukeld ; " so that its foundation may be referred with every probability to the 
reign of James V., when George Crighton, who occupied that see from the year 1527 
to 1543, founded the hospital of St Thomas near the Watergate, about two years before 
his death, and endowed it for the maintenance of certain chaplains and bedemen, " to 
celebrate the founder's anniversary obit, by solemnly singing in the choir of Holyrood 
Church, on the day of his death yearly, the Placebo and Dirige, for the repose of his 
soul," &c. 8 There can be little doubt, moreover, that the old land, which was only 
demolished in the year 1789, was the same mansion of Lord Home, to which Queen 
Mary retreated with Darnley, on her return to Edinburgh in 1566, while she was haunted 
with the horrible recollections of the recent murder of her favourite, Rizzio, and her mind 
revolted from the idea of returning to the palace, the scene of his assassination, whose 
blood-stained floors still called for justice and revenge against the murderers. " Vpoun 
the xviij day of the said moneth of March," says the contemporary annalist, 4 " our 
soueranis lord and ladie, accumpauijt with tua thowsand horssmen come to Edinburgh, 
and lugeit not in thair palice of Halyrudhous, hot lugeit in my lord Home's lugeing, callit 
the auld bischope of Dunkell his lugeing, anent the salt trone in Edinburgh ; and the 
lordis being with thame for the tyme, wes lugeit round about thame within the said burgh." 
Lord Home, who thus entertained Queen Mary and Darnley as his guests, was, at that 
date, so zealous an adherent of the Queen, that Randolph wrote to Cecil from Edinburgh 
soon after that he would be created Earl of March ; 6 and although at the battle of Lang- 
side he appeared against her, he afterwards returned to his fidelity, and retained it with 
such integrity till his death as involved him in a conviction of treason by her enemies. 
In the following reign this ancient tenement became the property of George Herio-t, and 
the ground rents are still annually payable to the treasurer of the hospital which he 

The portion of the High Street still marked as the site of this ancient building, is 
closely associated with other equally memorable incidents in the life of Queen Mary ; for 
almost immediately adjoining it, on the east side, formerly stood the famous Black Turn- 
pike already alluded to, 6 as the town house of Sir Simon Preston, Provost of Edinburgh 
in 1567, to which the unhappy Queen was led by her captors, amid the hootings and 
execrations of an excited rabble, on the evening of her surrender at Carbery Hill. This 
ancient building was one of the most stately and sumptuous edifices of the Old Town. It 
was lofty and of great extent, and the tradition of Queen Mary's residence in it had never 
been lost sight of. A small apartment, with a window to the High Street, was pointed out 

1 Maitland, p. 189. * Arnot, p. 246. 

3 Maitland, p. 154. Keith furnishes this character of the bishop, " A man nobly disposed, very hospitable, and a 
magnificent housekeeper; but in matters of religion not much skilled." ' 

4 Diurnal of Oceurrents, p. 94. 5 Keith, vol. ii. p. 292. c Ante. p. 79. 


as that in which she spent the last night in the capital of her kingdom; the last on which 
though captive, she was still its Queen. The magnificent and imposing character of this 
building, coupled with the historical associations attached to it, have given it an exaggerated 
importance in popular estimation, so that tradition assigned it a very remote antiquity, 
naming as its builder, King Kenneth III., who was slain A.D. 994 ; not without the 
testimony of heaven's displeasure thereat, for " the moon looked bloody for several nights, 
to the infinite terror of those that beheld her," besides other equally terrible prodigies ! l 
Maitland, the painstaking historian of Edinburgh, detecting the improbability of such 
remote foundation for this substantial building, obtained access to the title-deeds, and found 
a sasine of the date 1461, conveying it to George Robertson of Lochart, the son of the 
builder, which would imply its having been erected early in the fifteenth century. From 
other evidence, we discovered that it belonged in the following century to George Crighton, 
Bishop of Dunkeld, and was in all probability either acquired or rebuilt by him for the 
purpose of the religious foundation previously described. This appears from an action 
brought by " the Administrators of Heriot's Hospital, against Robert Hepburn of Bearford," 
in 1693, 2 for "aground-annual out of the tenement called Robertson's Inn," and which 
at a subsequent date is styled, " his tenement in Edinburgh called the Black Turnpike." 
The pursuers demanded the production of the original writs from the Bishop of Dunkeld, 
and it would appear from the arguments in defence, that the building had been conferred 
by the Bishop on two of his own illegitimate daughters, and so diverted from the pious 
objects of its first destination, perchance as a sort of compromise between heaven and 
earth, by which more effectually to secure the atonement he had in view for the errors of a 
licentious life. To all this somewhat discrepant evidence we shall add one more fact from 
the Caledonian Mercury, May 15th, 1788, the date of its demolition: "The edifice 
commonly called the Black Turnpike, immediately to the west of the Tron Church, at the 
head of Peebles Wynd, one of the oldest stone buildings upon record in Edinburgh, is 
now begun to be pulled down. ... It may be true what is affirmed, that Queen Mary was 
lodged in it in the year 1567, but if part of the building is really so old, it is evident 
other parts are of a later date, for on the top of a door, the uppermost of the three entries 
to this edifice from Peebles Wynd, we observe the following inscription : 


The whole character of the building, however, seems to have contradicted the idea of 
so recent an erection, and the inscription a peculiarly inappropriate one for the scene 
of the poor Queen's last lodging in her capital is probably the only thing to which the 
date truly applied. 

We have passed over the intermediate alleys from the New Assembly Close to the 
Tron Church, in order to preserve the connection between the ancient lands of the 
Bishop of Dunkeld, that formed at different periods the lodging of Queen Mary. 
Steveulaw's Close, the last that now remains of that portion of the High Street, still con- 
tains buildings of an early date. Over a doorway on the west side, near the foot, is this 

1 Aberorombie's Martial Achievements, vol. i. p. 194. 

1 Fountainball's Decisions, vol. i. pp. 583, 688. 

* We have stated reasons before for believing that dates were sometimes put on buildings by later proprietors. 


I H ; and another bears a shield of arms, with an inscription partially defaced. 
We have not discovered any names among its earlier occupants worthy of note ; but 
immediately adjoining it, on the site of the west side of Hunter Square, formerly stood 
Kennedy's Close, a scene associated with one of the most eminent among the distin- 
guished men of early times. In a MS. memorandum book of George Paton, the Anti- 
quary, the following note occurs: " George Buchanan took his last illness, and died in 
Kennedy's Close, first court thereof on your left hand, first house in the turnpike, above 
the tavern there ; and in Queen Anne's time this was told to his family and friends who 
resided in that house, by Sir James Stewart of Goodtrees, Lord Advocate." A reference 
to Edgar's map shows that the close consisted of two small courts connected by a narrow 
passage, the sight of the first of which will exactly correspond with that of the present 
Merchants' Hall. Here the eminent Scottish historian and reformer closed his active and 
laborious life on the 28th of September 1582. Finding, when on his deathbed, that the 
money he had about him was insufficient to defray the expenses of his funeral, he sent his 
servant to divide it among the poor, adding " that if the city did not choose to bury him, 
they might let him lie where he was." He was interred on the following day in the Grey- 
friars' Churchyard. It is justly to be regretted that the spot cannot now be ascertained, 
notwithstanding that, on an application made to the Town Council, so recently as 1701, 
" the through-stane " was directed to be raised in order to preserve it. 1 

In the centre of the High Street, in front of the Black Turnpike, the ancient citadel of 
the Town-Guard cumbered the thoroughfare till near the close of last century, protected by 
its ungainly utility from the destruction that befell many of the more valuable relics of 
antiquity. During Cromwell's impartial rule in Edinburgh, it formed the scene of many 
of his acts of " guid discipline, causing drunkardis ryd the trie nieir, with stoppis and 
muskettis tyed to thair leggis and feit, a paper on thair breist, and a drinking cap in thair 
handis." : This obsolete instrument of punishment, the wooden mare, still remained at 
the end of the old Guard-house, when Kay, the Caricaturist, made his drawing of it imme- 
diately before its destruction. The chronicles of this place of petty durance, could they 
now be recovered, would furnish many an amusing scrap of antiquated scandal, interspersed 
at rare intervals with the graver deeds of such disciplinarians as the Protector, or the 
famous sack of the Porteous mob. There, such fair offenders as the witty and eccentric 
Miss Mackenzie, 3 daughter of Lord Royston, found at times a night's lodging, when she 
and her maid sallied out disguised as preux chevaliers in search of adventures. Occa- 
sionally even a grave judge or learned lawyer, surprised out of his official decorum by 
the temptations of a jovial club, was astonished on awaking to find himself within its 

1 The following is an extract from the Council Records, 3d December 1701 : " The Council being informed that the 
through-stane of the deceast George Buchanan lyes sunk under the ground of the Greyfriars, therefore they appoint the 
chamberlain to raise the same, and clear the inscription thereupon, so as the same maybe legible." Bann. Misc. vol. 2. 
p. 401. The sight whereon his dwelling stood would form no inappropriate place for a commemorative tablet to replace 
the lost " through-stane." Dr Irving, his biographer, has strangely persisted, in the face of this evidence, to affirm that 
"his ungrateful country never afforded his grave the common tribute of a monumental stone." (Irving's Life of 
Buchanan, p. 309.) A skull, believed to be that of the historian, is preserved in the Museum of the University of 
Edinburgh, and is so remarkably thin as to be transparent. The evidence in favour of this tradition, though not alto- 
gether conclusive, renders the truth of it exceedingly probable. 

! Nicoll's Diary, p. 69. ' Ante, p. 169. 


impartial walls, among such strange bed-fellows as the chances of the night had offered to 
its vigilant guardians. The demolition of the Cross, however, rendered the existence of 
its unsightly neighbour the more offensive to all civic reformers. Ferguson, in his 
" Mutual Complaint of the Plairistanes and Causey," humorously represents it as one of 
the most intolerable grievances of the latter, enough to " fret the hardest stane ; " and at 
length, in 1785, its doom was pronounced, and its ancient garrison removed to the New 
Assembly Close, then recently deserted by the directors of fashion. There, however, they 
were pursued by the enmity of their detractors. The proprietors of that fashionable district 
of the city were scandalised at the idea of such near neighbours as the Tow?i-Rats, and by 
means of protests, Bills of Suspension, and the like weapons of modern civic warfare, 
speedily compelled the persecuted veterans to beat a retreat. They took refuge in 
premises provided for them in the Tolbooth, but the destruction of their ancient strong- 
hold may be said to have sealed their fate ; they lingered on for a few years, maintaining 
an unequal and hopeless struggle against the restless spirit of innovation that had beset 
the Scottish capital, until at length, in the year 1817, their final refuge was demolished, 
the last of them were put on the town's pension list, and the truncheon of the constable 
displaced the venerable firelock and Lochaber axe. 

VIGNETTE Loobaber axes from the Antiquarian Museum. 



TN the centre of the High Street, not far from the site of the Tron Church, there stood 
in ancient times the Tron or public heam for weighing merchandise ; generally 
styled in early deeds and writings the Salt Tron, to distinguish it from the Butter 
Tron, or Weigh-house, already described. It is shown in the curious bird's-eye view of 
the siege of Edinburgh Castle, drawn in 1573, in the form of a pillar mounted on steps, and 
with a beam and scales attached to it. This central spot was the scene of many singular 
exhibitions during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, more especially in the 
exposure and punishment of culprits. While traitors and political offenders of all sorts 
expiated their crimes at the Cross, the lesser offences of perjury and knavery were reserved 
by a discriminating system of justice for the more ignominious, though less deadly, penalties 
of the Tron. One of the liveliest of the scenes which were enacted there during the 1 7th 
century, occurred on the arrival of the news in June 1650, that Charles II. had landed in 
the north. The Estates of Parliament were then assembled at Edinburgh, and the fickle 
populace were already heartily tired of trying to govern themselves. Nicoll, the old diarist, 
tells us, "All signes of joyeswer manifested in a speciall rnauer in Edinburgh, by setting 
furth of bailfyres, ringing of bellis, sounding of trumpettis, dancing almost all that night 
through the streitis. The pure kaillwyfes at the Trone sacrificed thair mandis andcreillis 
and the verie stoolis thai sat upone to the fyre." 

It has been hastily concluded from this, by certain sceptical antiquaries, that, as Jenny 

1 Nicoll's Diary, p. 16. 
VIGNETTE Ancient Doorway, Blackfriars' Wyml. 


Geddes, the heroine of 1637, was one of the kail wives of the Tron, her famous stool the 
formidable weapon with which she began the great rebellion, by hurling it at the Dean of 
St Giles' head must have perished in this repentant ebullition of joy, and accordingly 
that the relic shown in the Museum of the Society of Antiquaries is undeserving of credit. 
We must protest, however, against so rash an hypothesis, which would involve the 
destruction of the sole monument of the immortal Janet's heroic onslaught; seeing there can 
be no reasonable question that a dame so zealous and devout would reserve her best stool for 
the Sunday's services, and content herself with a common creepie for her week-day avoca- 
tions at the Tron ! * There is no doubt, however, that Jenny gave unequivocal proofs of 
her loyalty at a later period, as she is specially mentioned in the Mercurius Caledonius, a 
newspaper published immediately after the Eestoration, as having taken apiomineut share 
in similar rejoicings on the coronation of the king in 1661. "But among all our bontados 
and caprices," says the curious annalist, " that of the immortal Jenet G-eddis, Princesse of 
the Trone Adventurers, was most pleasant, for she was not only content to assemble all her 
creels, basquets, creepies, frames, and other ingredients that composed the shope of her 
sallets, radishes, turnips, carrots, spiuage, cabbage, with all other sort of pot merchandise 
that belongs to the garden, but even her leather chair of state, where she used to dispense 
justice to the rest of her langkale vassals, were all very orderly burned ; she herself 
countenancing the action with a high-flown fkmrish and vermillion majesty." 

Halkerston's Wynd, which is the first close now remaining on the north side of the 
High Street below the Tron Church, had once been a place of considerable note, but 
nearly every vestige of antiquity has disappeared. We have already given a view 2 of a 
very curious ancient lintel still remaining on the east side, which bears on it the monogram 
IHS, and a cross-fleury ', with a coronet surmounting the letter D. The whole style 
and character of this doorway indicates a date long anterior to the Reformation, but the 
building to which it belonged has been demolished, all but a portion of the outer wall, 
and we have failed to obtain any clue to its early history. It was in its later state a 
timber-fronted land, having a good deal of carving along the gables, and an ornamental 
stone stair-case projecting beyond, altogether indicating the remains of a magnificent 
and costly mansion of the olden time. Adjoining this, another doorway, forming a 
similar vestige of a more modern building, bears the common inscription, BLISSIT . BE 
GOD . FOR . AL . HIS . GIFTIS . and the initials and date ED D 1609. This ancient 
alley formed one of the accesses to the city from the north, previous to the erection of the 
North Bridge. Fountainhall 8 gives a curious account of an action brought by Robert 
Malloch in 1701 against the magistrates of Edinburgh, for shutting up the Halkerston's 
Wynd Port. From this it appears that a suburban village had sprung up on Moutrie's 
Hill, the site now occupied by James' Square, in which a number of poor weavers and other 
tradesmen had set up in defiance of the incorporations of the Glide Toun. The deacons 
finding their crafts in danger, took advantage of an approaching election to frighten the 
magistrates into a just sense of the enormity of tolerating such unconstitutional interlopers 

1 Even Jenny Geddes's well-earned reputation "cannot live out of the teeth of emulation." Kincaid (Hist, of Edin. 
p. 63) puts forward a new claimant to her honours, " an old woman named Hamilton, grandmother to Robert Mein, 
late Dean of Guild officer in Edinburgh." 

8 Ante, p. 118. 3 Fountainhall's Decisions, vol. ii. p. 110. 



so near their ancient burgh. The port was accordingly shut up, and the sluices of the 
North Loch closed, so as to flood a small mound that had afforded a footpath to the 
port for the freetraders of this obnoxious village. The battle was stoutly maintained for 
a time, but the magistrates finding the law somewhat rigid in its investigation of their 
right over the city ports, and the election most probably being satisfactorily settled mean- 
while, they opened the port of their own accord, and allowed the sluices of the North 
Loch again to run. 

In Kinloch's Close, immediately adjoining this wynd, there stood, till within the last 
twenty years, a very handsome and substantial old stone land, with large and neatly moulded 
windows, and abounding with curious irregular projections, adapting it to its straitened 
site. Over the main entrance was a finely carved lintel, having the Williamson arms 
boldly cut in high relief, with the initials I W ' accompanied by a singular device of the 
cross of passion springing from the centre of a saltier, and the inscription and date in 
large Eoman letters, FEIR GOD IN LUIF 1595. 

The ancient timber-fronted land which faces the street at the head of this close is 
one possessing peculiar claims to our interest, as the 
scene of Allan Ramsay's earlier labours, where, " at 
the sign of the Mercury, opposite to Niddry's Wynd," 
he prosecuted his latter business as author, editor, 
and bookseller. From thence issued his poems 
printed in single sheets, or half sheets, as they were 
written, in which shape they are reported to have 
found a ready sale ; the citizens being in the habit 
of sending their children with a penny for " Allan 
Ramsay's last piece." 1 Encouraged by the favour- 
able reception of his poetic labours, he at length 
published proposals for a re-issue of his works in a 
collected form, and, accordingly, in 1721, they 
appeared in one handsome quarto volume, with a 
portrait of the a.uthor from the pencil of his friend 
Smibert. Ramsay continued to carry on business 
at the sign of the Mercury till the year 1725, so 
that nearly all his original publications issued from 

this ancient fabric. In that year he removed to the famous land in the Luckenboothe, 
which has been already minutely described. The accompanying vignette represents 
the former building as it existed previous to 1845, when a portion of the timber front 
was removed, and the picturesque character of the old land somewhat marred by modern 

Immediately to the east of Ramsay's old shop, a plain and narrow pend gives access 
to Carrubber's Close, the retreat of the faithful remnant of the Jacobites of 1688. Here, 
about half way down the close, on the east side, St Paul's Chapel still stands, a plain and 
unpretending edifice, erected immediately after the Revolution. Thither the persecuted 

1 Scottish Biographical Dictionary, Article Ramsay. 
VIGNETTE Allan Ramsay's shop, opposite Niddry's Wynd. 


Bishop arid his stanch nou-jurant followers repaired on the downfall of the national 
establishment of Episcopacy, and there they continued to worship within its narrow 
bounds amid frequent interruptions, particularly after the rising of 1745, resolutely 
persisting for nearly a century in excluding the name of the " Hanoverian usurpers " 
from their devotions. The chapel is still occupied by a congregation of Scottish Episco- 
palians, but the homely worshippers of modern times form a striking contrast to the 
stately squires and dames who once were wont to frequent the unpretending fane that 
sufficed to accommodate the whole disestablished Episcopacy of the capital. 

Immediately below the chapel, a huge escalop shell, expanding over the porch of the 
main entrance to an old tenement, marks the clam-shell land. Here was the house of 
Ainslie's master, during Burns's visit to Edinburgh, at whose table the poet was a 
frequent guest, while on another floor of the same land, the elder Sir William Forbes of 
Pitsligo, another of the poet's early friends, resided, until his removal to one of the first 
erections in the New Town. The whole locality, indeed, is in some degree associated 
with the poet's friends and favourite haunts in the capital ; for on the second floor of the 
ancient stone land which faces the High Street, at the head of the close, was the abode 
of Captain Mathew Henderson, " a gentleman who held the patent for his honours 
immediately from Almighty God," on whom the poet wrote the exquisite elegy preserved 
among his works, to the very characteristic motto from Hamlet, " Should the poor be 

This old close was the scene of the only unsuccessful speculation of another poet, 
whose prudent self-control enabled him through life to avoid the sorrows that so often 
beset the poet's path, and to find in the Muse the handmaid of wealth. Allan Ramsay 
was strongly attached to the drama, and in his desire for its encouragement, he built a 
play-house at the foot of Carrubber's Close, about the year 1736, which involved him in 
very considerable expense. It was closed immediately after by the act for licensing the 
stage, which was passed in the following year, and .the poet's sole resource was in writing 
a rhyming complaint to the Court of Session, which appeared soon after in the Gentleman's 
Magazine. The abortive play-house has since served many singular and diverse purposes. 
It is the same building, we believe, which bore the name of St Andrew's Chapel, 
bestowed on it soon after the failure of the poet's dramatic speculation. In 1773 it 
formed the arena for the debates of the Pantheon, a famous speculative club. In 1788, 
Dr Moyes, the ingenious lecturer on Natural Philosophy, discoursed there to select and 
fashionable audiences en optics, the property of light, and other branches of science, in 
regard to which his most popular qualification was, that he had been blind almost from 
his birth. Since then the pulpit of St Andrew's Chapel has been filled by Mr John 
Barclay, the founder of the sect of modern Bereans ; by the Rev. Mr Tait, and other 
founders of the Rowites, during whose occupancy the celebrated Edward Irving frequently 
officiated. The chapel has also been engaged by Relief and Secession congregations, by 
the Roman Catholics as a preaching station and schoolroom, and more recently as a hall 
for lectures and debates of all kinds ; as strange and varied a medley of actors as even the 
fertile fancy of the poet could have foreshadowed for his projected play-house. 1 

1 It was latterly called Whitefield Chapel, used for meetings of the Carrubber's Close Mission. It has now been 
demolished in the construction of Jeffrey Street. 


Should this old close escape the destruction that already threatens so many of the haunts 
of the olden time, it will not be considered by future generations as the least worthy of its 
associations, that there, on the west side, and near the foot of the close, were the work- 
shop and furnace of James Ballantine, the author of the " Gaberlunzie's Wallet," and the 
" Miller of Deanhaugh," as well as of some of the liveliest of our modern humorous 
Scottish songs never heard with such effect as when sung by himself. There, it is 
probable, many of his literary productions were matured, where also he completed, under 
numerous disadvantages, the successful designs for the competition of 1844, which gained 
for him the distinguished honour of executing the painted windows of the New House of 
Lords. The close has suffered little from modern alteration, and still presents a very 
pleasing specimen of the quaint and picturesque irregularity of style which gladdens the 
eye of the artist, and sets the reforming citizen a ruminating on the possibility of a new 
improvements commission, that shall sweep away such rubbish from every lane and alley 
of the ancient capital. 

Bishop's Close, which adjoins this on the east, preserves in its name a memorial of 
" the Bishop's Land," one of the most substantial and noted among the private buildings 
in the High Street of Edinburgh. It owed this peculiar designation to its having been 
the residence of the eminent prelate, John Spottiswood, Archbishop of St Andrews, who, 
as appears from the titles, inherited it from his father, the Superintendent of Lothian. 
This fact is of some value, as serving to discredit the statement of his unrequited labours 
during the latter years of his life. The date on the old building was 1578, at which time 
the Superintendent would be in his sixty-ninth year ; and the house was sufficiently 
commodious and magnificent to serve afterwards for the town mansion of the Scottish 
primate. The ground floor of the building was formed of a deeply arched piazza, supported 
by massive stone piers, and over the main entrance a carved lintel bore the common 
inscription, BLISSIT . BE . YE . LORD . FOB . ALL . HIS . GIFTIS . 1578, with a shield impaled 
with two coats of arms, and the initials V. N., H. M. A fine brass balcony projected from 
the first floor, which has doubtless often been decorated with gay hangings, and crowded 
with fair and noble spectators to see the riding of the parliaments, and the magnificent 
state pageants of early times. This interesting old tenement was totally destroyed by fire 
in 1814, but the carved lintel has been preserved, and is now built into the adjoining 
pend of North Gray's Close. From the evidence in the famous Douglas cause, it appears 
that Lady Jane Douglas resided in Bishop's Land soon after her arrival in Scotland, and 
was visited there by Lord Prestongrange, then Lord Advocate, in 1752. 1 Here also is 
stated to have been the house of the first Lord President Dundas, and the birthplace of 
the celebrated Viscount Melville ; 2 and so aristocratic were the denizens of this once 
fashionable tenement, that we have been told by an old citizen there was not a family 
resident in any of its flats, towards the end of the century, who did not keep livery ser- 
vants a strange contrast to their plebeian successors. In the title-deeds of Archbishop 
Spottiswood's mansion, it is described as bounded on the east by the tenement sometime 
pertaining to James Henderson of Fordel. This was no doubt the house referred to in 
the " Diurnal of Occurrents," where it is said that Queen Mary, after the bootless muster 
at Carbery Hill, " quheu she come to Edinburgh, wes lugeit in James Hendersones hous 

1 Case of Respondents, foL p. 34. a Ch.imbers'a Traditions, vol. i. Appendix. 



of Fordell," ! and although this is an obvious mistake for Sir Simon Preston's residence 
in the Black Turnpike, it is probable she had lodged there on some earlier and happier 
occasion, when it was no very unwonted circumstance for her Majesty to become the guest 
of the wealthier citizens of the capital. This old land, however, has also disappeared, and 
is now replaced by a plain and unattractive modern erection. 

We furnish a view of a very curious and beautiful Gothic 
corbel, carved in the form of a grotesque head, with leaves 
in its mouth, which was found on the east side of North 
G-ray's Close, about twenty years since, in excavating for a tan 
pit. It was discovered six feet below the ground ; and in the 
course of digging, the workmen came upon a large fragment 
of wall, of very substantial masonry, running from east to 
west, and completely below the foundations of the neigh- 
bouring houses. We have examined a large collection of 
title-deeds of the surrounding property in the hope of dis- 
covering the existence of some religious house here in early 
times, of which these are fragments, but the earliest, which 

is dated 1572, describes nearly the whole close as then in a waste and ruinous state a 
condition to which it appears to be rapidly returning, after having, from the appearance 
of the old buildings, afforded fitting residence for titled courtiers and wealthy burgesses. 
These discoveries, however, furnish evidence of the great changes which have taken place 
on Edinburgh in common with most other ancient cities. This portion of the town has 
evidently been totally destroyed in the conflagration effected by the Earl of Hertford's 
army in 1544; and while the houses in the main street were speedily rebuilt, the ground 
to the north lay for nearly thirty years an unoccupied waste, so that when the citizens at 
length began to build upon it, they founded their new dwellings above the consolidated 
ruins of the older capital. The carved stone was preserved in the nursery of Messrs 
Eagle & Henderson, Leith Walk. 

There was a fine old stone land at the head of Bailie Fife's Close on the west side, 
which bore, on a large lintel over one of the upper windows, the Trotter arms, in bold 
relief; two stars in chief, and a crescent in base; with the initials I. T., I. M., and the 
date 1612. 2 Another ancient tenement remains in good preservation, in Chalmers's Close, 
which possesses claims of special interest to the antiquary, as one of the very few now left 
in which the curious sculptured stone niches occur, that have been frequently referred to in 
the course of this work. The house stands within the close, on the west side. On the 
first floor a sinall niche appears, at the right side of the doorway, immediately on entering, 
and in the opposite wall there is another of large size, and a highly ornamental character 
though now dilapidated, and greatly obscured with whitewash through which a window 
has been broken, looking into Barringer's Close. Alongside of the latter niche a narrow 

1 Diurnal of Ooourrents, p. 115. 

a Another large shield occurs on a pannel above the ground floor, with the initials I. P., M. H., and the Parley Arms 
(Yorkshire) a cheveron between three mullets, impaled with those of Hay. Over a neatly moulded doorway below 
is the inscription in Boman characters, now greatly defaced : BE . PASIENT . IN . THE . [LORD.] [This ancient 
dwelling-house, which had stood for nearly 250 years, suddenly fell to the ground on midnight of Saturday, November 
10, 1861, burying iu its ruins thirty-five persons.] 


turnpike stair has formerly afforded access to the floor above, and the general construction 
of the apartment renders it exceedingly probable that it may have been used as a private 
chapel before the Reformation. It is now subdivided by flimsy modern partitions, and 
furnishes a residence for several families. The only clue afforded by the title-deeds 
to former proprietors of any note, is, that here resided a worthy burgess of last century, 
competitor with the author of the Gentle Shepherd, in his earlier occupation, and 
the grandfather of one of the most eminent of the modern citizens of Edinburgh, 
Lord Francis Jeffrey, with whom this old close was a favourite haunt in his boy- 
hood. Over the doorway of the adjoining staircase, which projects into the close, 
the name of JoljIU ^?0p? is cut in large old English characters, with a defaced coat 
of arms between, and on the lowest crow-step a shield is sculptured with armorial 
bearings, and the initials I' H' The dilapidated building retains considerable traces 
of former magnificence, as well as undoubted evidence of an early date. The large 
windows have been each divided with a mullion and transom, and are finished with 
unusually rich mouldings at the sides. The hall on the first floor, which has been an 
apartment of considerable size, is now subdivided into separate dwellings by slight 
wooden partitions. There can be little doubt, we think, from the style of lettering 
in the inscription and the general character of the building, that this is the mansion 
of John de Hope, the founder of the Hopetoun family, who came from France in 1537, 
in the retinue of the Princess Magdalene, Queen of James V., and who afterwards 
became a substantial burgher in the Luckenbooths, visiting the continent from time 
to time, and importing French velvets, silks, gold and silver laces, and the like valuable 
foreign merchandise. 1 It seems to be unquestionable that no other John Hope existed in 
Scotland till the reign of Charles I. ; a date long posterior to that of the building. This 
was his descendant, Sir John Hope of Craighall, the eldest son of the celebrated Lord 
Advocate, who was Lord President of the Court of Session during the Protectorate, and to 
whom Charles II. owed the shrewd, though unpalatable advice, " to treat with Cromwell 
for the one halff of his cloake before he lost the quhole." 

In the next alley, which is termed Sandilands' Close, a large and remarkably 
substantial stone tenement, forms the chief feature on the east side, and presents an 
appearance of great antiquity. The ground floor of this building is vaulted with stone, 
and entered by doorways with pointed arches, and over the lower of these is a neat small 
pointed window or loop-hole, splayed and otherwise constructed as in early Gothic 
buildings. We present a view of one of the most interesting pieces of ancient sculpture 
in Edinburgh, which forms part of the internal decorations of this old edifice. It seems 
to be intended to represent the offering of the Wise Men, and is well executed in bold 
relief, although, like most other internal decorations in the Old Town, plentifully 
besmeared with whitewash. It appears to form the end of a very large antique fireplace, 
the remainder of which is concealed under panneliug and partitions of perhaps a century 
old, while another, of the contracted dimensions usual in later times, has been constructed 
in the further corner. It is exceedingly probable that much more of this interesting 
sculpture remains to be disclosed on the removal of these novel additions of recent date. 

1 Coltness Collections, Mait. Club, pp. 16, 17. From which it appears that John de Hope and his son Edward 
occupied the two booths east of the Old Church style. 

2 5 6 


Such of the title-deeds of this property as we have obtained access to are unfortunately 
quite modern, and contain no reference to early proprietors; but one of the present 
owners described a sculptured stone, containing a coat of arms surmounted by a mitre, 

that was removed from over the inner doorway 
some years since, and which appears to have 
been the Kennedy arms. If it be permissible 
to build on such slender data, in the absence 
of all other evidence, we have here, in all 
probability, the town mansion of the good 
Bishop Kennedy, the munificent patron of 
learning, and the able and upright counsellor of 
James II. and III. 1 The whole appearance of the 
building is perfectly consistent with this supposi- 
tion. The form and decorations of the doorways, 
particularly those already described, all prove 
an early date ; while the large size and elegant 
mouldings of the windows, and the massive 
appearance of the whole building, indicate such 
magnificence as would well consort with the 
dignity of the primacy at that early period. 

A very fine specimen of the ancient timber-fronted lands of the Old Town stood till 
within the last few years at the head of Trunk's Close, behind the Fountain Well, on the 
site of a plain stone tenement that has since replaced it. The back portion of the old 
building, however, still remains entire, including several rooms with fine stuccoed ceilings, 
and one large hall beautifully finished with richly carved pillasters and oak panneling, 
which is described in the title-deeds as "presently "i.e., in 1739 "a meeting-house 
possest by Mr William Cocburn, minister of the gospel." It had previously formed the 
residence of Sir John Scot of Ancrum, the first of that title, who was created a baronet by 
Charles II. in 1671. From him it was acquired by Sir Gilbert Elliot of Stobs, in 1703, 
and here resided that baronet, and his more illustrious son, General Elliot, the gallant 
defender of Gibraltar, better known by his title of Lord Heathfield. On the pediment 
over the window of a fine old stone land on the west side of Trunk's Close, is the inscrip- 
tion in bold characters : HODIE MIHI CRAS TIBI It is worthy of notice that 
the same inscription is appropriately carved in similar characters over the splendid tomb 
of Thomas Bannatine, in the Greyfriars' Churchyard. Several other ancient tenements in 
this close are worthy of inspection for their antique irregularity of construction. 

But the chief Lion among the venerable fabrics of the Old Town of Edinburgh has 
long been the singularly picturesque structure which terminates the High Street towards 
the east, and forms the mansion provided shortly after the Reformation, at the expense of 
the town, for its first parish minister, the great Reformer, John Knox. Chambers remarks 

1 A confused tradition of its having been an Episcopal residence is still preserved among the inhabitants, founded, it 
may be presumed, on the sculptured mitre. The old dame who first admitted us to inspect it, stated that it was Biihop 
' house ; a name, it is perhaps unnecessary to remark, not to be found in Keith's list. 
VIGNETTE Ancient Sculpture, Sandilands' Close. 


of it: "This is perhaps the oldest stone building of a private nature now existing here; 
for it was inhabited, before John Knox'a time, by George Durie, Abbot of Dunfcrmline 
and Arch-Dean of St Andrews." He was promoted to Dunfermline by King James 
V. in 1539, and was canonised by the Church of Rome within two years after his 
death. No evidence now appears in the title-deeds of the property to afford a clue to 
this or any other of its earlier possessors, but the tradition has been long universally 
received which assigns it as the residence of the Reformer. Here, in the year 1559, he took 
up his abode, along with his faithful wife, Marjorie Bowes, his companion during years 
of wandering and danger, but who did not long survive his settlement in this more 
promising place of rest To the same house, in 1563, he brought his second wife, Mar- 
garet Stewart, daughter of " the good Lord Ochiltree," whose affections his defamers 
affirmed he had gained by sorcery. Nicol Burne, in that curious work, " A disputation 
concerning the controversit headdis of religion," represents him going for his bride, 
" rydand with ane gret court on ane trim gelding, nocht lyk ane prophet or ane auld 
decrepit priest, as he was, hot lyk as he had bene ane of the blude royal, with his bendes 
of taffetie feschnit with golden ringis and precious stanes ; and as is plainlie reportit in 
the country, be sorcerie and witchcraft, did sua allure that puir gentlewoman that scho 
could not leve without him." 

The house where Knox has received the messengers of Queen Mary, the nobles of the 
court, and the leaders of the Congregation, is now rapidly falling to decay ; but it still 
retains the traces of former magnificence. From its peculiar position, projecting into the 
thoroughfare, and presenting its western front up the High Street, it is one of the most 
remarkable houses in the Old Town ; forming a subject well calculated to tempt the artist's 
pencil, even though it wanted the adventitious aid of historical associations. A long 
inscription extends over nearly the whole front, immediately above the ground floor ; but it 
is unfortunately concealed, all but the first two words, by the sign-boards of the traders, 
who have succeeded to the occupancy of the ancient tenement. It is in large Roman 
characters, and is understood to run thus : LVFE GOD ABOVE AL AND 
YOVR NICHTBOVR AS YI SELF. A small effigy of the Reformer has long 
decorated the angle of the old building, on which the pious care of successive tenants has 
been expended, with a zeal not always appreciated by their fellow-citizens. He occupies 
a pulpit of Presbyterian simplicity of form, and points with his right hand to a curiously 
carved stone, whereon the name of the Deity appears, in Greek, Latin, and English, 
surrounded by a glory on the side towards the preacher, while clouds gather around it 
on the further side. Over a large bow window a carved stone is pierced with a circular 
aperture, now closed up, but which, from its position, suggests the idea of having been 
constructed for a public clock. Such of the stone-work as remains exposed is of polished 
ashlar, but numerous timber additions have been made to the original fabric in early 
times. Among these, a small apartment on the south front is, in all probability, the 
study constructed for him at the expense of the town, soon after he took up his abode; 
there, in conformity with the following act of Council: " The samine day the Provost, 
Baillies, and Counsail, ordanis the Dene of Gyld, with all diligence, to make ane warme 
studye of dailies to the minister, John Knox, within his hous, abone the hall of the same, 
with lyght and wyndokis thereunto, and all other necessaris." There, therefore, we may 



believe, was the place whither the Reformer withdrew for private study and devotion, and 
where the chief portion of his history was written. 

The plaster ceiling of the hall appears to be a work about the time of Charles II., but a 
great portion of it has now given way, and discloses the original oak beams and planking 
of the floor above, which are painted in the style we have already described in the account 
of Blyth's Close. Tradition has industriously laboured to add to the associations of the 
old building by such clumsy inventions as betray their spuriousness. A vault underneath 
the street, which contains a covered well, is exhibited to the curious by the tenant of the 
" laigh shop/' as the scene of secret baptisms of children before the Reformation ; at a 
time when it more probably formed a convenient receptacle for the good Abbot's wines, 
and witnessed no other Christian rites than those over which his butler presided. The 
" preaching window " has also been long pointed out, from whence the Reformer, accord- 
ing to the same authority, was wont to address the populace assembled below. The 
interesting narrative of his last sermon in St Giles's Church, and the scene that followed, 
when his congregation lingered in the High Street, watching, as for the last time, the 
feeble steps of their aged pastor, seems the best confutation of this oft-repeated tradition, 
which certainly receives no countenance from history. Among these spurious traditions, 
we are also inclined to reckon that which assigns the old Reformer's house to the cele- 
brated printer, Thomas Bassandyne. Society Close, in its neighbourhood, was indeed 
formerly called Bassandyne's Close, as appears by the titles ; but even if this be in 
reference to the printer, which we question, it would rather discredit than confirm the 
tradition, as another land intervened between that and the famed old tenement. 1 There is 
an access to Knox's house by a stair in the angle behind the Fountain Well, in the wall 
of which is a doorway, now built up, said to communicate with a subterranean passage 
leading to a considerable distance towards the north. 

It is impossible to traverse the ruined apartments of this ancient mansion without feel- 
ings of deep and unwonted interest. To the admirers of the intrepid Reformer, it awakens 
thoughts not only of himself but of the work which he so effectually promoted ; to all it 
is interesting as intimately associated with memorable events in Scottish history. There 
have assembled the Earls of Murray, Morton, and G-lencairn ; Lords Boyd, Lindsay, 
Ruthven, and Ochiltree, and many others, agents of the Court, as well as its most resolute 
opponents ; and within the faded and crumbling hall, councils have been matured that 
exercised a lasting influence on the national destinies. There, too, was the scene of his 

1 AVe have discovered in the Burgh Charter Room a deed of disposition referring to part of this property, and of an 
earlier date than any now in the hands of the proprietors, viz : " Disposition of House in Nether Bow, March 1, 1624, 
Ahioune Bassendyne and others to John Binning." One of the others is Alexander Crawford, her husband, while the 
property appears to have been originally acquired by her as spouse of umq" Alexander Ker, two of whose daughters 
by her are named, along with their husbands, as joint contracting parties in the disposition ; and, it may be added, 
" umq 1 " Alexander Richardson, some time spouse to me, the said Alesoune, " an intermediate husband, is mentioned in 
the deed. The house is situated down the close, and is bounded "by the waste land descending north to the wall of 
Trinity College on the north . . . and the waste land of umquile James Bassendyne on the south parts." This deed is 
dated only forty-seven years after the death of the printer ; so that James was, in all probability, a contemporary or pre- 
decessor. Neither he nor Alesoun is referred to among the printer's relatives in his will (Bann. Misc. vol. ii. p. 203), 
but ' Alesoun Baseindyne, my dochter," is appointed one of the executors in the will of Katharine Norwell, the widow 
of the printer, who had married a second time, and died in 1593 (ibid, p. 220), and to whom she leaves her "twa best 
new blak gowneis, twa pair of new cloikis, and twa new wylie cottis, with ane signet of gold, and ane ring with twa 
btaneis. " She was probably the old printer's only child, and an infant at the time of his decease. The house, which 
We believe to have been that of Thomas Bassendyne, is described towards the close of this chapter. 


escape from the shot of an assassin, which struck the candlestick before him as he sat at 
his studies ; and within these walls he at length expired, in the sixty-seventh year of his 
age, " not so much oppressed with years as worn out and exhausted by his extraordinary 
labour of body and anxiety of mind." 

A range of very picturesque buildings once formed the continuous row from " Knox's 
corner," to the site of the ancient Nether Bow Port, but that busy destroyer, Time, seems 
occasionally to wax impatient of his own ordinary slow operations, and to demolish with 
a swifter hand what he has been thought inclined to spare. One of them, a curious 
specimen of the ancient timber-fronted lands, and with successive tiers of windows divided 
only by narrow pilasters, has recently been curtailed by a story in height and robbed of 
its most characteristic features, to preserve for a little longer what remains, while the 
house immediately to the east of Knox's, which tradition pointed out as the mansion of 
the noble family of Balmerinoch, has now disappeared, having literally tumbled to the 
ground. Immediately behind the site of this, on the west side of Society Close, an 
ancient stone laud, of singular construction, bears the following inscription over its main 
appears to have been a date, but it is now illegible. The doorway gives access to a curious 
hanging turnpike stair, supported on corbels formed by the projection of the stone steps 
on the first floor beyond the wall. This is the same tenement already referred to as the 
property of Aleson Bassendyne, the printer's daughter. The alley bears the name of 
Bassendyne's Close, in the earliest titles ; more recently it is styled Panmure Close, from 
the residence there of John Maule of Inverkeilory, appointed a Baron of the Court of 
Exchequer in 1748 a grandson of the fourth Earl of Panmure, attainted in 1715 for his 
adherence to the Stuarts. The large stone mansion which he occupied at the foot of the 
close, was afterwards acquired by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, 
founded in 1701, and erected into a body-corporate by Queen Anne. Its chief apart- 
ment was used as their Hall ; from which circumstance the present name of the close 

The old timber land to the east of this close is said to have been the Excise Office 
in early times, in proof of which the royal arms are pointed out over the first floor. 
The situation was peculiarly convenient for guarding the principal gate of the city, and 
the direct avenue to the neighbouring seaport. It is a stately erection, of considerable 
antiquity, and we doubt not has lodged much more important official occupants than the 
Hanoverian excisemen. It has an outside stair leading to a stone turnpike on the first 
floor, and over the doorway of the latter is the motto DEVS BENEDICTAT. Since 
George II. 's reign, the Excise Office has run through its course with as many and 
rapid vicissitudes as might suffice to mark the career of a profligate spendthrift. In its 
earlier days, when a floor of the old land in the Nether Bow sufficed for its accommoda- 
tions, it was regarded as foremost among the detested fruits of the Union. From thence 
it removed to more commodious chambers in the Cowgate, since demolished to make way 
for the southern piers of George IV. Bridge. Its next resting-place was the large tene- 
ment on the south side of Chessel's Court, in the Canongate, the scene of the notorious 
Deacon Brodie's last robbery. From thence it was removed to Sir Lawrence Dundas's 
splendid mansion in St Andrew Square, now occupied by the Royal Bank. This may 


be considered its culminating point. It descended thereafter to Bellevue House in 
Drummond Place, built by General Scott, the father-in-law of Mr Canning, which house 
was demolished in 1846, in completing the tunnel of the Edinburgh and Leith Railway ; 
and now, we believe, the exciseman no longer possesses a " local habitation " within the 
Scottish capital. 

On the southern side of the High Street, below " the Iron," some few remains of 
antiquity have escaped the ruthless hand of destruction, though the general character of 
the buildings partakes largely of modern tameness and insipidity. Previous to the 
commencement of the South Bridge in 1785, the east end of the Tron Church, which has 
since been considerably curtailed, abutted on to a large and stately range of building of 
polished ashlar, with an arched piazza, supported on stone pillars, extending along nearly 
the whole front. A large archway in this building, immediately adjoining the church, 
formed the entrance to Marliu's Wynd, in front of which a row of six stones, forming 
the shape of a coffin, indicated the grave of Marlin, a Frenchman, who, having first paved 
the High Street in the sixteenth century, seems to have considered that useful work his 
best public monument ; but the changes effected on this locality have long since oblite- 
rated the pavior's simple memorial. The same destructive operations swept away the whole 
of Niddiy's Wynd, an ancient alley, abounding with interesting fabrics of an early date, 
and associated with some of the most eminent citizens of former times. Here was the 
civic palace of Nicol Udward, Provost of Edinburgh in 1591, a large and very handsome 
quadrangle building, of uniform architectural design and elegant proportions, in which 
King James VI. and his Queen took up their residence for a time in 1591. 1 This 
building appears, from the description of it, to have been one of the most magnificent 
private edifices of the Old Town. 2 In the same wynd, a little further down on the 
opposite side, stood St Mary's Chapel, an ancient religious foundation dedicated to the 
Virgin Mary. It was founded and endowed by Elizabeth, Countess of Ross, in 1504, 
the widow of John, Lord of the Isles, who was outlawed and forfeited by James III. for 
treasonable correspondence with Edward IV. of England. She was the eldest daughter 
of James, Lord Livingston, Great Chamberlain of Scotland, and appears to have held 
considerable property by special charters in her own behalf. A modern edifice has been 
substituted for the ancient chapel before the demolition of Niddry's Wynd, which formed 
the hall of the corporation of wrights and masons. It was acquired by them in 1618, 
since which they have borne the name of the United Incorporations of Mary's C/tapel. 
The modern erection appeared from its style to have been built early in the eighteenth 
century, and its name is now transferred to their unpretending hall in Bell's Wynd. 

On entering Dickson's Close, a little farther down the street, the first house the visitor 
comes to on the left hand is a neat and very substantial stone edifice, evidently the work 
of Robert Mylne, and built about the period of the Revolution. Of its first occupants 
we can give no account, but one of its more recent inhabitants is calculated to give it a 
peculiar interest. Here was the residence of David Allan, " our Scottish Hogarth," as 
he was called, an artist of undoubted genius, whose fair fame has suffered by the tame 
insipidity which inferior engravers have infused into his illustrations to Ramsay and 
Burns. The satiric humour and drollery of his well-known " rebuke scene " in a country 

1 Ante, p. 89. " For a detailed account of this very interesting old building, vide Minor Antiquities, p. 207. 


church, and the lively expression aiid spirit of the " General Assembly," and others of 
his own etchings, amply justify the character he enjoyed among his contemporaries as a 
truthful and humorous delineator of nature. He succeeded Ruuciman as master of the 
Academy established by the Board of Trustees, the classes of which then met in the 
College, while he received private pupils at his own house in Dickson's Close. 1 A little 
lower down the close on the same side, an old and curious stone tenement bears on its 
lower crowstep the Haliburton Arms, impaled with another coat, on one shield. It is a 
singularly unique and time-worn edifice, evidently of considerable antiquity. A curious 
double window projects on a corbeled base into the close, while the whole stone-work is 
so much decayed as greatly to add to its picturesque character. In the earliest deed 
which exists, bearing the date 1582, its first proprietor, Master James Halyburton a 
title then of some meaning is spoken of in indefinite terms as umy le or deceased ; so 
that it is a building probably of the early part of the sixteenth century. It afterwards 
was the residence of Sir John Haliday of Tillybole. The most interesting fact, however, 
brought out by these early titles, occurs in defining the boundaries of the property, 
wherein it is described as having " the trans of the prebendaries of the kirk of Crightoun 
on the east pairt and oyr partes ; " so that a considerable part of Cant's Close appears 
to have been occupied in early times by ecclesiastical buildings in connection with 
the church of Crichton, erected into a collegiate foundation in 1449 by Sir Wm. 
Crichton, Lord High Chancellor of Scotland. 2 Directly opposite to the site of this 
is another ecclesiastical edifice, the mansion of the Abbot of Melrose, which enters 
from Strichen's Close. It is a large and substantial stone building, enclosing a small 
square or court in the centre, the original access to which seems to have disappe